The Labour Party is calling on the Government to get involved in the overstayer problem and liaise with community leaders to look for solutions.
The overstayer issue has been highlighted by an alleged scam in which Pacific Island people were sold fake visas.
Police have charged the scheme's organiser, Gerard Otimi, with three counts of deception.
New Zealand has about 16,000 overstayers, of which a third are from Samoa and Tonga.
Labour's Pacific Island affairs spokeswoman, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, said today it was time for the Government to do something about it.
"The recent visa scam highlighted the desperation of many in the Pacific community, as have recent submissions to Parliament's foreign affairs and defence select committee which is inquiring into New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific," she said.
"The committee has been told hundreds of children are not attending school because their parents are in the country illegally and that many are also not seeking the health care they need."
Ms Laban said Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu, and her ministry, should begin organising meetings with the Pacific community and church leaders to discuss ways to tackle the problem.
"The minister's silence has been deafening and it's time she stepped up," Ms Laban said.
Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman was questioned about overstayers during a select committee hearing last week.
He said the Government was not considering an amnesty for overstayers because amnesties did not work in the long term.
Dr Coleman said there was an amnesty in 2000, when there were 20,700 overstayers, and only 5000 took the opportunity.
"But 18 months later the numbers of overstayers in total had actually exceeded the numbers pre-amnesty," he told the committee.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
- Fellet unmoved by media company 'for-sale' signs as Sky TV mulls capital options
- Budget 2016: The debt picture softens
- Economics of Tiwai Point smelter still going backwards, Woodward's Kidd says
- NZ posts trade surplus in April as gold kiwifruit, apples drive exports
- Arvida posts underlying full-year profit that beats IPO forecast
Most listened to
- AMA: Orion boss Ian McCrae delivers 10 quickfire answers to 10 quickfire questions from readers
- Government debt will top out at about 26% of GDP, well below most other countries, says Professor Niall Ferguson
- Taxpayers' Union director Jordan Williams is not sold on the government's 'Soviet-style' tourism accommodation plan
- Europe expansion could come quicker than planned, says Invert Robotics CEO James Robertson
- In his Editor’s Insight, Nevil Gibson argues the government’s role in tourism is more critical to economic growth than housing