Wellington, June 18 NZPA - Government ministers have deplored a fake passport and visa scam that is stinging Pacific people in New Zealand.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said it was "disgusting" and was doing no good for Maori-Pacific Island relations.
Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu urged victims to go to the police.
"It's deplorable that anyone would do this to some of the most vulnerable people in our country," she said.
The bogus documents -- some believed to be in the name of a Maori sovereignty group -- were being sold for $500 in Auckland and Hamilton.
Some were offered at a meeting last night at Manurewa which attracted up to 4000 people.
Police said another meeting was to be held tonight in Mangere but there were few details available about where it would be held or how it was being advertised.
Inspector Karen Wilson said police in Counties-Manukau and the Waikato were scrambling to find out whether any laws had been broken.
Waikato district crime services manager Detective Inspector Peter Devoy said police believed a meeting had taken place at a marae in Hamilton this week.
"We're very much in the initial phase of gathering information before we can make any assessment on what if any offences may have been committed and are appealing for anyone who may have been at this meeting to come forward."
Dr Sharples said he was "disgusted that this group is deliberately fooling Pacific Island folks".
He said the visas and passports had a crown crest as well as the organisers' own flag and crest. "I really, really feel for the Pacific Island people who have been duped in this way."
Mangere MP Su'a William Sio said anyone who had paid money to the "rogue group" had been fooled.
"Any visa or residency stamps in your passport from this group are worthless and have no legal status whatsoever.
"The actions of these rascals are despicable. Shame on them for preying on desperate people."
The New Zealand Immigration Service was the only legitimate body in this country which could issue visas and permanent residency and legitimate passports were only issued by the Department of Internal Affairs.
It is understood that the group offering the passports is linked to the Maori sovereignty group Ko Huiarau which formed in the early 1800s when European settlement began.