Woman with kidney disease can use extra time to seek ruling on new visa, says Tribunal

A Tongan woman with end-stage kidney disease has been granted a nine month visitor visa by the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

Over the past 20 years the woman has visited new Zealand several times.

In 2017 she was granted a two year visitor’s visa which allowed multiple visits.

In 2019 she was diagnosed at Vaiola hospital in Tonga with  complicated  diabetes  mellitus  type  2.    She  had end-stage kidney disease and was advised that she needed renal haemodialysis, which was not available in Tonga.

On June 24, 2019 she re-entered New Zealand on a visitor visa and in  September  that year she  began  dialysis  at  Middlemore Hospital. She lodged an appeal last November.

The tribunal was told she would die if returned to Tonga as she needed dialysis treatment which was not available there.

All of the appellant’s adult children were either New Zealand citizens or residents.  It was important for the family to be together in view of the appellant’s reduced life expectancy.

The appellant’s children were making a weekly payment of $150 to Counties  Manukau  District  Health  Board  towards  the  cost  of  the appellant’s treatment.  All four children were working and are paying tax.

“Patients on dialysis treatment have an average extra life of five years according  to  figures  from  research in  the  United  States,” the Tribunal said.

“The appellant  is  not  therefore  going  to  require  years  of  expensive treatment in the hospital system.

“It is in the public interest for the appellant to be in New Zealand with all her children on a permanent basis. There is a humanitarian element and it is in the public interest for the appellant to be with her children in the last few years of her life. It is also in the public interest not to send someone to die in their own country.”

The Tribunal said the number of Tongans entering New Zealand to obtain dialysis was not going to fall while Tonga was unable to provide such treatment. The costs to New Zealand’s public health  system  of  treating  those  who  did  manage  to  get  to  New  Zealand was significant.

The situation of newly arrived Tongans needing treatment for end-stage kidney failure and how New Zealand could most cost effectively assist Tonga to respond to its public health needs in this area was most appropriately addressed at a political level.

The issue of whether someone from Tonga who came to New Zealand to access dialysis should be granted residence and on what conditions was essentially a political decision for the Minister who could consider such cases in a wider political context, including the links between Tonga and New Zealand through the history of migration.

The Tribunal said a visitor visa would enable the appellant to remain lawfully in New Zealand for another  nine months where she could continue to receive essential medical treatment.  During that time she would have the option of seeking a resident or further visitor visa from the Minister as an exception to instructions.

The  main points

  • A Tongan woman with end-stage kidney disease has been granted a nine month visitor visa by the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
  • The Tribunal said a visitor visa would enable the appellant to seek a resident or further visitor visa from the Minister.

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