Tribunal grants residence visa to Tongan family, describes them as “well-settled”

Kuo tu’utu’uni ‘a e Tulaipiunolo ‘a e ‘Imikuleisini Nu’u Sila’ ke tali e tangi ke foaki ha pepa nofo fonua Nu’u Sila ‘a fāmili Tonga. Taha e makatu’unga tefito’ ko e pehē ne ‘i he tu’unga lelei e anga nofo ‘a e fāmili’ ni ‘i Nu’u Sila ni’. Na’e pehē ‘e he Tulaipiunolo’ ‘oku ‘i ai e ngaahi makatu’unga makehe ‘o e fāmili’ ni makatu’unga ‘i he ‘uhinga ko hono taukave’i e mo’ui lelei ‘a e ha’a tangata’ pea ‘e ta’e totonu ia mo hoko kia kinautolu ha fa’ahinga fakamamahi lahi kapau ‘e fakafoki kinautolu ki Tonga. Na’e fakakaukau’i ‘e he Tulaipiunolo’ e fu’u ta’u ‘e 13 kuo ‘i Nu’u Sila’ ni ai e husepāniti’, ko e pīkinga ‘a e uaifi’ mo Nu’u Sila ni’, fua ‘e he husepāniti e ngaahi fatongia fakapa’anga ki hono fāmili ‘i Tonga’ pea pehē foki ki he ‘uhinga ko e lelei taha pe ia ki he fānau’ ke nau nofo ‘i Nu’u Sila’ ni.

The New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal has ordered that a Tongan man and his family be granted residence visas.

The Tribunal said the appellants had exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature which would make it unjust or unduly harsh for them to be deported from New Zealand.  

The Tribunal considered the length of time they had been in New Zealand, the wife’s family connection to New Zealand, the husband’s financial obligations to his family in Tonga, and the best interests of the children in remaining in New Zealand.

The husband had lived in New Zealand for 13 years and the wife and her two daughters for more than nine years. 

The husband and wife had seven children between them from their previous relationships.  The husband had three children from his first marriage who lived with their mother.

The wife had four children, two of whom were included in the appeals.

The husband first entered New Zealand in September 2005 and was granted a series of visas to work in the forestry industry until June 2014.  During that time he also made efforts to obtain residence in New Zealand.

 However, his two registrations under the Pacific Access category ballot were unsuccessful.  His application under the Family (Sibling and Adult Child) category was withdrawn before it was finalised.

The husband’s last application for a work visa was declined with no reasons given. There was however a record made on his Immigration New Zealand file that he had previously failed to declare two convictions for careless use of a vehicle and one for excess breath alcohol.

The wife arrived in New Zealand with the two children in 2009.  They were granted one-month visas.  They do not appear to have been granted any further visas until June 2018. 

The husband and wife began living together as a couple in 2012, with the wife’s two children living in the same household.

The Tribunal said the husband and wife had formed a functional, loving family unit with the wife’s daughters.

“The wife has a strong family nexus to this country through her sister, the couple can adequately provide for their children here which would be difficult in Tonga, the husband is sending remittances back to Tonga, the wife is concerned to avoid contact with her former husband there and, as parents, they consider staying here to be in the best interests of their children,” the Tribunal said. 

The Tribunal also considered the fact that the two children were nearing the end of school and the fact that the wife feared returning to Tonga where her first husband was liking because he had physically abused her in the past.

“The appellants are longstanding members of a New Zealand-based church and active in their local Tongan community.  They can be considered well-settled in this country,” the Tribunal said.

“The Tribunal finds that the appellants’ lengthy settlement and the wife’s relationship with her sister who is her only living immediate family member, the husband’s difficulty providing for the children on return to Tonga after a 13-year absence and the consequent cessation of his financial contribution to his family there (and to his three children in New Zealand), and the best interests of the two children in remaining in their settled life in New Zealand, cumulatively establish exceptional humanitarian circumstances.” 

The main points

  • The New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal has ordered that a Tongan man and his family be granted residence visas.
  • The Tribunal said the appellants had exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature which would make it unjust or unduly harsh for them to be deported from New Zealand.  
  • The Tribunal considered the length of time they had been in New Zealand, the wife’s family connection to New Zealand, the husband’s financial obligations to his family in Tonga, and the best interests of the children in remaining in New Zealand.

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