Australian hīkoi kicks off

By Harata Brown
  • Australia

A hīkoi that aims to raise awareness with all Kiwis and non-Australian citizens about migration laws in Australia is underway. The Trans-Tasman convoy or hīkoi Route 501 left Sydney today and plans to stop in at 12 different locations across Australia.

A construction site at Sydney has been described as an area of huge significance to the first Māori migrants.

Hīkoi participant Chris Barber says, “It was a starting point for Te Pahi and Ruatara and that was the entry point into Australia for Māori and New Zealanders.”

A handful of members left Sydney early this morning to embark on a 17,000km hīkoi or convoy throughout Australia.

Route 501 organiser Erina Morunga says they've already had the opportunity to meet with other Australian migrants who have been affected by Australia's migration laws, "One guy stood up from Lebanon to tautoko us. He says you know coming from war torn countries, this type of treatment is just not good and it's not right."

Route 501 takes its name from Section 501 of Australia's Migration Act, which can refuse or cancel visas on the grounds of a character test. It is hoped that the hīkoi will stop in at Brisbane and the Gold Coast today.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis says, “One of the objectives of this journey is to bring together people from Australia and the many Māori based at different locations, so they are all aware how to best protect themselves.”

The Australian Tour will finish up in Canberra on April 19 and arrive in NZ on April 21.