Tribunal allows appeal from Tongan family to stay in NZ on humanitarian grounds

    The New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal has allowed a Tongan family of four to remain in the country.

    The family includes two children aged nine and six years, who were born in New Zealand.

    The husband,35, and the wife, 29,  have been living in New Zealand for 11 and 12 years respectively.

    In its report on the case, the Tribunal said the main issue was whether the wife’s strong family ties to New Zealand and the emotional support she provided for her mother and  teenaged sister gave rise to exceptional humanitarian circumstances that would make it unjust or unduly harsh for her to be deported from New Zealand.

    The wife came to New Zealand in December 2006, aged 17, along with her mother, younger sister and two younger brothers.  She had a two-month visitor  visa and when that expired she remained here unlawfully.

    The husband first entered New Zealand for three weeks during November 2005. When he re-entered in December 2007 he held a three-month visitor visa, subsequently renewed until September 2008.

    Thereafter, he remained here unlawfully.

    The husband and wife  married in New Zealand  in June 2008.   Their first child,  a son, was born in May 2009. The  couple’s  second  child,  another  son,  was  born  in  New  Zealand  in January 2013.

    The Tribunal said that the woman’s mother left a  marriage marred by domestic violence and the suicide of one of her children.

    The wife experienced  traumatic  events  in  her  home  environment when living in Tonga.  Her father and two older brothers were given  to extreme violence. Two brothers had severe mental health conditions which resulted at times in their incarceration and the wife also discovered the body of her brother who committed suicide.

    The wife has a bond with her mother. Her mother was traumatised by her son’s death in Tonga in April 2016 and the circumstances of his death.   The wife has a strong family nexus to New Zealand in that her mother and four of her siblings are New Zealand  residents.

    The Tribunal was told that none of the husband’s family in Tonga was able to provide accommodation or other support as they are living in overcrowded conditions and still recovering from the damage sustained during Cyclone Gita in February 2018. It would be extremely  difficult  for  the  appellants  to  re-establish  themselves in Tonga.

    The wife had type 2 diabetes and end-stage kidney disease and needs renal replacement therapy.  This service is not available in Tonga  so that  her  survival  was  uncertain,  and    most  certainly  measured in months.

    “The relationship between the wife and her mother is exceptionally close and reflects the unfortunate history of an abusive family environment and the protective role the wife has had to adopt towards her mother, as well as the shared traumatic experiences of more recent years,” the Tribunal aid.

    “If the wife was deported, this would be a major blow to her mother and other family members in New Zealand.

    “The eldest daughter, in addition to dealing with her own marriage breakup  and  looking  after  five  children,  would  presumably  have  to  take over responsibility for  her mother  and  younger  sister,  both  with fragile mental health.

    “Deportation   will   permanently   separate   her   from   her   family in New Zealand to the distress and detriment of the wife and her family members.”

    The Tribunal said the wife had established exceptional humanitarian circumstances.  Because the mother could not  be expected to live in New Zealand without her husband or children, they too were found to have exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature.  

    The main points

    • The New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal has allowed a Tongan family of four to remain in the country.
    • The family includes two children aged nine and six years, who were born in New Zealand.

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