Lawyer seeks reprieve for Ha'apai deportees

An immigration lawyer believed the New Zealand government should hold deporting Tongan overstayers because of the consequences after cyclone Ian struck the islands in January 11.

Almost 100% of houses and buildings in the central Ha'apai Islands group, which is home to about 8000 people and which bore the brunt of Cyclone Ian, were damaged or destroyed.

The immigration lawyer, Richard Small, was today quoted by Radio New Zealand International as saying "the New Zealand authorities are wanting to send Tongan over stayers back to the area, and he has 30 such cases on his books.

"He says New Zealand has a role to play as a neighbour and a responsible member of the Pacific Forum, and should introduce a two-month moratorium on deporting people to Ha'apai, on humanitarian grounds", according to the Radio.

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