The tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions have left Fiji citizens in Australia and New Zealand concerned over what the practical effects might be.
A Fijian community leader in New Zealand, Sai Lealea, tells Radio Australia's Bruce Hill that indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians are worried about travel arrangements and visa processing times, especially with the busy holiday season coming up.
SAI LEALEA: In my case, I have got a nephew who is waiting in a couple of weeks time and efforts to try and get some relatives over. With what has happened, impacts on kind of services provided by the High Commission in Fiji, it is going to make life a bit difficult for those wanting to organise travel. There is going to be a protracted period, other requirements, administrative requirements, lodging applications and these are people who have to travel from afar to come to Suva, make arrangements to book their travel as well as meet the requirements for the High Commission to enable them to travel, in terms of police check, medical examination and what have you. So at the practical level, these are the things that could easily happen and now people are worried about those things. And, of course, with the festive season, coming up to Christmas, that's going to be greatly felt.
BRUCE HILL: Who do New Zealand-Fijians blame mainly for this situation, Commodore Bainimarama or the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key and the Australian Government?
LEALEA: The question one has to ask and I know a lot of people are asking, what has Fiji got to gain by this kind of tactic by Bainimarama? I mean Australia and New Zealand are long term friends of Fiji, no question about that and they have never had any problem with Fiji before. It is the government, not the people, it's the government of this illegal regime in Fiji that is having trouble, because it cannot be trusted. New Zealand and Australia have only the best motives and try to assist the people of Fiji and as I just said, we have a government in Fiji that is illegally, that is just being led by somebody who just doesn't want to listen, who thinks he can intimidate and brag about dealing to New Zealand and Australia.
HILL: Is the Fijian community fairly united in this or is this just perhaps your opinion?
LEALEA: Well, it is no question it is my opinion, but I know it is widely shared. We're having trouble during this instant, during this period of illegal government in Fiji. I mean if you take Fiji's development over the years, you know you can trace back Australia and New Zealand's involvement. So there is no question about overall support for Australia and New Zealand having been good friends of Fiji. What we are having trouble with is illegal regimes who have come into power in Fiji through the point of guns, so there is something widely shared and the people have long memories about those.
HILL: I understand that you have actually launched a campaign within the New Zealand-Fijian community to get that community to publicly support the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, in his approach to Fiji?
LEALEA: Yes, it is really just promoting, publicising the avenue which people could voice their opinion and their support to the New Zealand Government in its effort to maintain its course and direction on Fiji and that direction is mainly about tightening up on those sanctions. So the effort really is to showing people how to email the prime minister of New Zealand directly and just suggesting, just a couple of paragraphs or three stating their points of view, because it is important for New Zealand, certainly the prime minister to know that the people from Fiji here who endorse, who love Fiji, would like to see Fiji return to its rightful place as a democratic country in the Pacific.