By Brittany Keogh,

A violent man has been spared deportation for the sake of his family’s welfare – despite having been convicted of assaulting his wife.

The 40-year-old Tongan citizen and New Zealand resident assaulted his spouse during an argument in September 2012, according to a recently-released Immigration and Protection Tribunal decision. 

He pleaded guilty to male assaults female and using threatening language and was sentenced to nine months’ supervision with special conditions.

The following June, the then-immigration minister sent the man a notice saying he was liable for deportation but the minister suspended his deportation for five years on the condition that he didn’t reoffend. 

But he has now been saved from deportation for a second time after assaulting two men, documents said.

The incident happened in March 2018, just before the five-year suspension finished. 

He had been drinking and caught a taxi to pick up some friends from church but could not find them. When he asked the taxi driver to try somewhere else, the driver demanded he pay in advance.

The man and the driver began arguing and another taxi driver came over. The man was alleged to have assaulted both drivers and that July was convicted of two charges of common assault.

The judge sentenced the man to 100 hours of community work and one year’s supervision and ordered him to pay each of his victims $150 in reparations.

Because the man had reoffended, he faced deportation again. His residency visa was cancelled.

The man appealed the decision to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

At a tribunal hearing in Auckland in March, his lawyer argued that there were exceptional humanitarian circumstances in the case. 

The man’s wife, who had been a New Zealand resident since 2006, was deeply connected to her local community, and their New Zealand-citizen children, aged 9, 7, and 3, were well settled in the New Zealand education system.

For that reason, the children’s mother would not move them to Tonga if the man was deported and the couple’s marriage would “inevitably come to an end”, the decision said.

The man had been a good father to his children, whom he was close to and looked after while his wife worked.

The loss of emotional and financial support of their father and husband would cripple the family, the decision said.

The man’s offending had been at the lower end of the scale, his lawyer said, and he had been under the influence of alcohol when he committed all of the offences.

According to evidence submitted from his GP, the man had been sober since the March 2018 and attended a drug and alcohol treatment programme.

“He is also acutely aware that his violence whilst intoxicated has jeopardised his family’s security and does not want to further risk this in the future with continued alcohol use.”

The tribunal adjudicator was satisfied that deporting the man and permanently separating him from his children would severely impact their well-being and development.

“It would also bring to an end a decade-old marriage, causing significant distress and anguish to the appellant’s wife, and to the appellant himself,” the decision said.

The adjudicator found deporting the man would be “unjust or unduly harsh” and reinstated his residency visa.


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