Tongan RSE worker flees Auckland airport to avoid return, community asked to help locate him

In picture: Fehoko Fifita authority believes he was hiding in Auckland. Photo/Supplied

A Tongan seasonal worker who was sponsored by his employer to come privately to New Zealand to have his injured knee operated on has repaid this generosity by absconding just as his flight was due to depart.

Nelson orchardist, David Easton who has employed workers from Vava’u each year for the last 9 years, is going to have a black mark against his name at Immigration New Zealand and is likely to fork out more money to meet the cost of finding his former employee.

He is asking the Tongan community to help persuade Fehoko Fifita and his family in Auckland to go home or his accreditation as an employer under the RSE scheme will be affected.

Twenty-four year old Fehoko Fifita from Vava’u was booked to return to Tonga on Friday last week, the day that his visa expires but after being checked in at Nelson airport, he managed to get his luggage off-loaded when he got to Auckland and did not board the flight.

Airport CCTV footage showed that Fehoko was with a woman when he asked for his luggage to off-loaded at the international terminal in Auckland and has since gone to ground suggesting that he is being aided by family members in Auckland.

RSE liaison officer in New Zealand, Sefita Hao’uli says that when he called Fehoko’s mobile phone and asked to speak to him, the phone was hung up.   He got a text message saying that Fehoko was away temporarily.

He said there was a hint that something like this was on the cards because the family approached Ministry of Internal Affairs staff in Tonga a few days prior and asked if Fehoko’s visa could be extended so that Fehoko could be with his mother who now lives in Auckland.

They supplied a contact number for  Mr Tevita Fakaʻata who is a used car salesman working for Tarnica Cars Limited in South Auckland.

“I told Faka’ata that the 30-day visa for Fehoko could not be extended as the sponsor, David Easton had told Immigration New Zealand that Fehoko will return within the 30 days and that if they want to bring him over, they should make a separate arrangement and he said he accepted it”, he said.

Fakaʻata told Kaniva News he only knew about Fehoko and his family through a friend of his in Auckland. The family asked him if he can help them find a way to extend Fehoko’s visa.

“It’s probably because of how I connected with the Tongan community here in Auckland and  I told them I have to talk to Tonga’s Ministry of Labour and Commerce”, Faka’ata said.

“In fact I do not know the family personally and even Fehoko. After I found out he was sponsored by an RSE employer here in New Zealand I told them I could not be able to help and that was it,” Faka’ata said.

Sefita said he was asked by David to meet Fehoko off the connecting flight from Nelson but Fehoko managed to evade him at the domestic terminal.

“You can imagine how hurtful this has been for David Easton and his wife Maryanne, and frankly, I find it incredibly embarrassing to deal with this level of ingratitude”, said Sefita.

“David told me over the phone, he didn’t have to do this but decided to do so because he felt sorry for the worker so and he forked out for his visa costs and airfares and looked after him in all the time that he was here.

“I thought that at the very least, Fehoko should have got better advice from those of his family here in New Zealand who are obviously looking after him now.

“It isn’t too late to do what I think would be the right and proper thing to do.  They should pack him off to Tonga as that will go some distance to putting this right.

“He has breached his visa conditions.  He has no regards to the generosity towards him.  He risks the livelihood of 50 families from Vava’u who rely on the Eastons for work every year.

“The reputational cost to many is huge and I think that this family will know that”.

Anyone with information they think might help locate the wherebout  of Fehoko can contact Sefita at 027 4531 000.

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