Phoenix Foundation member in citizenship row
Mon, 23 Jul 2012 9:36a.m.
By Dan Parker/NZN
Phoenix Foundation's Will Ricketts may have been flying the flag for New Zealand music overseas, but the band's travels have also burned his hopes for citizenship here.
The Wellington band's co-writer, percussionist and keyboardist moved with his family from London to Wellington in 1981, when he was two-years-old.
He has residency but has been told by the Internal Affairs Department that it will deny his application for citizenship because he spends too much time out of the country.
“I don't have a criminal record, I'm employed, I'm not in debt,” says Mr Ricketts.
“[I’m] simply out of the country too long and that's kind of ironic because I'm out of the country promoting New Zealand work.”
The Phoenix Foundation plays regularly overseas - it needs to to survive - including gigs in Europe and the UK. And band mate Luke Buda says that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
“We'll be looking to spend probably a third of next years overseas,” he says.
Band vocalist and guitarist Samuel Scott said the overseas gigs were often with support from the New Zealand Music Commission to showcase Kiwi music.
Friend and Phoenix Foundation collaborator, film-maker Taiki Waititi, described the situation as "classic NZ hospitality".
A department spokesman said recommendations were made to the minister on set criteria, including that applicants had to have spent 240 days in New Zealand for each of the past five years.
Mr Ricketts can apply to the Minister for an exemption but DIA has told him they'll recommend the Minister opposes his application.
“In order to meet what's required to stay in New Zealand I have to stop my job and do something else,” says Mr Rickets.
And he says that isn't a decision he should have make.
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25/07/2012 8:18:49 a.m.
There needs to be an arts /cultural /sports /business ambassador category that acknowledges such international work is undertaken without penalty to NZ residence.
23/07/2012 7:11:24 p.m.
Hey, maybe he should have a word with a Labour MP. Shane Jones has a good record on granting 'difficult' cases of citizenship ;) Go figure.
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