A ceremony to officially recognise the nineteen new permanent residents (PR) of Niue was held at the Government building this morning.
The nineteen new permanent residents included a teacher, an accountant, a couple of entrepreneurs who’ve established businesses, labourers, mechanics from Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Philipines, England, and Samoa.
There were 10 children aged twelve and the youngest is a two-year-old. Eight of these children were born here in Niue.
Sponsors, families and friends filled out the government building conference room and outside area excited for their loved ones.
One of the sponsors Mary Talaiti from Vaiea spoke on behalf of all the sponsors to congratulate the new permanent residents of Niue.
She thanked the government and the Immigration department for supporting their requests. She says that it is sponsors like her who accepted the responsibility to bring people from other countries to help boost the population of the village communities.
Ms. Talaiti who is also the Chairperson of the Vaiea village council said that she is very pleased that with the regular migration of mostly Tuvaluan people the population of Vaiea has increased to over one hundred residents. According to the 2017 population census, Vaiea’s population increased from 89 in 2011 to 103 placing it the 7th largest village on the island ahead of Liku, Lakepa, Mutalau, Toi, Hikutavake, Namukulu, and Makefu. Ms. Talaiti proudly claimed today “We’re on the top list now”. Before the migration of Tuvaluans, Vaiea was one of the smallest villages on the island with less than 20 residents.
The Immigration law requires a foreigner who’s migrated to Niue to live on the island for at least ten years before being eligible to apply for permanent resident status. Prior to the changes in the law in 2011, it only required someone to live in Niue for three years then qualify for permanent residency.
Director of Immigration Kim Ray Vaha told BCN news that the nineteen new permanent residents granted today have all met the criteria and have shown that they are of good character and that they have accepted Niue as their home and will abide by the laws of the country.
Premier Tagelagi and his full Cabinet of ministers were at the ceremony. Minister of Immigration Crossley Tatui welcomed the new permanent residents stating that “The ceremony today shows that you have contributed a lot to our cultural, political, economic, social and technological growth and achievements. Your hard work, dedication and commitment over the years has earned our trust and confidence, to count you as our own brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Niue.”
Minister Tatui acknowledged the former government for the granting of most of the PR status today.
One by one the nineteen were called to accept their certificates from the Premier, who a number of times kneeled on his knees to shake hands with the youngest and smallest of the permanent residents.
Niue High School teacher Nainasa Faleovalu (pictured 1st left in blue) who has lived here for 13 years was visibly emotional as she spoke on behalf of the 19 recipients.
“We are a group of people from different Asia Pacific countries. We don’t look alike, we don’t worship the same way, but here today we all come together as one, as one people, as one nation as Niueans”
Mrs. Faleovalu who is originally from Fiji came to Niue thirteen years ago as a teacher and is now the Head of the Science department at Niue High School. She met and married her Tongan husband Pita here and they are the proud parents of two little boys. The whole family all became Niue permanent residents, today.
“Before today we have been contributing spiritually, culturally, and intellectually to the wealth of Niue, and I am positive that we will continue to do so, given any opportunity”.
To her fellow recipients, Mrs Faleovalu said “To be granted permanent residents here in Niue is not something to take lightly. It is something that we should cherish, hold with pride and dignity and be prepared and ready to undertake any responsibility that come our way”.
The ceremony concluded with light refreshments but there will be many celebration dinners tonight around the island for Niue’s new permanent residents.