Appeal to minister over ill Tongan woman deportation case

Immigration Associate Minister Kate Wilkinson is being asked to use her special powers to override her department’s order to deport an ill Tongan woman from New Zealand.

The woman was reported by Radio New Zealand International to be suffering from diseases that are difficult to be treated in her home island in Tonga if she is returned.

A political leader in Auckland has called on the government to be compassionate and avoid deporting the woman.

The woman comes from Ha’apai where one person died in Lifuka island as tropical Cyclone Ian ripped through  on January 11 causing extensive destruction that saw about 100 percent of the houses being either damaged or destroyed.

There have been calls on New Zealand government earlier last week to reprieve Tongan over-stayers who are about to be deported to Ha’apai Islands.

“It is inhumane for immigration authorities to deport a Tongan woman with a heart and thyroid condition whose doctor has said she is unfit to fly,” Labour’s Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says.

“The woman, who doesn’t want to be named, has told media the nearest hospital to her Ha’apai home doesn’t have the facilities to treat people with heart problems. Immigration New Zealand is putting her life at risk”.

Immigration New Zealand told Kaniva News the case is left to the discretion of the associate minister.

As the woman's representative "has appealed to the Associate Minister of Immigration to intervene in the case no deportation action will take place until the Minister has made her decision," NZ Compliance Operations Manager Natalie Gardiner said.

She added that, “a common-sense, case by case approach is being taken with regard to Tongan nationals who are liable for deportation. A standard part of INZ's interview process before deportation is to assess any humanitarian considerations or international obligations that need to be taken into consideration”.

In December 2012 a Tongan tetraplegic man, Semisi Ma'afu Samiu, 61 was deported to Tonga despite appeals and pleas from the community leaders to the Immigration Minister to have mercy and let him stay in New Zealand with his family.

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