There appears to be a great deal of interest on the issue of fly-in voters and the possibility of some Niueans coming to specifically cast their votes and then fly off again into the sunset.
The relevant legislation to look at is the Niue Assembly Act 1966, section 12 Qualification of Electors. Section 12 (2) and (3) defines the meaning of ‘ordinarily resident in Niue’.
The Act says that the applicant must actually be residing in Niue. It then goes on to provide, that if you have resided in Niue and you have every intention of residing here permanently, even when you’re absent from the island, so long as you can show that you have every intention of returning to live permanently, then you’re deemed to be ordinarily resident in Niue. This would cover, for example, those people who are on secondment to the Niue High Commission in Wellington.
If you’re studying off-shore and you have been away continuously for 3 years, you are still eligible to be on the roll. For anyone else if you’re away from the island continuously for three years or more, you need to be back and living in Niue for the 12 months preceding your application.
The issue of ‘fly in voters’ was dealt with by Savage CJ [Chief Justice Savage] in a case following the 2014 elections. Mrs Mokaelalini Vaha had filed a petition with the Court claiming that, inter alia, two people on the Toi electoral roll were fly-in voters. She alleged in her petition that Mr Morgan Taufitu and his daughter travelled from New Zealand for the purpose of voting in the general elections and specifically for the election of the Member of the Assembly for Toi. Mrs Vaha’s submission was that neither Mr Taufitu nor his daughter can be considered as ordinarily resident on Niue. The Chief Justice noted that they did fly in to Niue on the day before the election.
|Niueans living overseas can go home & vote if they meet|
the conditions – pic – pixabay.
Evidence before the court showed Morgan Taufitu was born in Niue and had been a registered voter since 1990. In the early 2000s he left to study at the University of the South Pacific travelling back to the island three times between 2002 and 2003. He told the Court that his intention had always been to return to Niue to live. He gave evidence that, for the time being, he had been resident in New Zealand since 2004 but returned home in December 2005 and September 2006.
In June 2008 he arrived on the day before the general elections. In May 2011, he again arrived a day before the general elections. In April 2014 he arrived the day before the general elections.The facts that were not disputed are that Mr Morgan Taufitu has never been continuously outside Niue for more than 3 years but it was also clear that he was not actually residing in Niue.
The Chief Justice ruled that he had sufficient evidence before him to show that Taufitu still had intentions of returning to live on Niue and therefore he was entitled to vote.
It appears therefore that for ‘fly in voters’, provided you have not been away continuously for 3 years and provided you can satisfy the court by producing evidence that your intentions has always been to return to live in Niue and your name is still on the electoral roll, you are good to vote.
All other returning Niueans who have been away continuously for 3 years prior to applying to be included on the roll, must fulfil the 12 months residency requirement.