Trans-Tasman denizens: human rights and human (in)security among New Zealand citizens of Samoan origin in Australia

Leanne Weber, Helen McKernan, Helen Gibbon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Border crossing is increasingly adopted as a security-seeking strategy by individuals, families and communities, while the nation state struggles to reconcile demands for mobility with border control politics. This article reports findings on Samoan-born Australian residents from a research project that examines aspects of temporary migration in the Asia Pacific. In the early stages of the fieldwork, the majority of Samoan-born residents encountered by the researchers were found to have arrived in Australia as New Zealand citizens who were entitled to stay indefinitely on Special Category Visas. This seemingly secure legal status seemed to place this group outside the research parameters. However, it became apparent that entry via a privileged migration channel did not necessarily ensure that human security needs were met. Looking at this group revealed much about the contrasts between temporary and permanent immigration status. Identified sources of insecurity arising from the group’s long-term ‘denizen’ status included socio-economic marginality, the pressures of maintaining transnational families, and concerns about young people and the law. While human security provides the conceptual starting point for the article and the wider research, the findings illustrate the importance of mobilising both citizenship rights and human rights to support the security-seeking projects of mobile populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-77
Number of pages27
JournalAustralian Journal of Human Rights
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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