Immigration consultant vows to share “bread he has” with overstayers as concerns for their well-being amid coronavirus lockdown grows

'Oku 'i ai 'etau kau 'ova 'i Nu'u Sila' ni ' fe'unga mo e toko 2498 lolotonga e taimi ko eni 'o e fakataputapui tu'unga he Koviti-19. Ko e 'ū faingamālie kotoa kuo fakahā fakapule'anga 'e he pule'anga 'o Ardern 'oku 'ikai ha lave 'e taha ai 'a e kau 'ova. Ko kinautolu ne nau kei 'i Nu'u Sila' ni i ha visa fakalao pea 'osi hono 'aonga' ki he 'aho 1 'o 'Epeleli pea nau fihia heni he fakataputapui kuo faka'atā ke nau nofo fakalao 'i Nu'u Sila' ni 'o a'u ki Sepitema. Te'eki ha toe liliu 'a e lao ki ha taha 'oku 'ova 'a ia ko e pau ke nau foki ki Tonga, pe ko e kole ha'anau nofo fonua fakafou he kupu 61 'o e lao ki he 'Imikuleisini 'a Nu'u Sila ka kuopau ke 'i ai hano makatu'unga lelei. Kuo te'eki foki fakahā ha tala'ofa. Kuo i a ha ni'ihi kau nofo fonua Nu'u Sila kuo nau loto ke fai ha me'a ke tokoni'i e fa'ahinga ko eni. Taimi tatau pe kuo loto lahi ha ni'ihi ke fakahā 'a e fievahevahe mo hotau fa'ahinga ko 'eni' 'a e fo'i mā 'oku ma'u'.

Pacific Immigration Consultancy Director Koliniasi Vānisi

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A Tongan consultant in Auckland said if any overstayer in New Zealand was in a very difficult situation and wanted help he would share his bread with them.

Kaniva News has interviewed a number of Tongans this morning through Facebook messenger in an attempt to delve deeper into the overstayers’ situation, which some interviewees described as distressing and devastating.

Pacific Immigration Consultancy Director Koliniasi Vānisi told Kaniva News he felt for these Tongans whose well-being, food, accomodation and financial supports were badly affected during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Vānisi said the Tongan cultural practice of fe’inasi’aki where families and relatives shared whatever they had in times of difficulty was the only hope for these overstayers.

He said there was no amnesty for the overstayers and as far as he understood the New Zealand policy and laws for these illegal immigrants still stood.

Any immigration overstayer must either “leave the country immediately, or make a request for a special temporary or resident visa under Section 61 of the Immigration Act, but only if you believe you have a special case.”

A woman who we chose not to name, said some people in the community should stand up and do something about these overstayers.

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She said although they were here in the country illegally, when it came to disaster like the Covid-19, every human being had a right to get access to all the benefits the government has offered as disaster relief.

She said three overstayers she knew about were working. However, when the lockdown was enforced they lost the jobs.

“They only relied on families and friends’ supports but now the country is on lockdown and it makes things worse for them,” the interviewee said.

Another interviewee told us he knew of a family of five and they have a baby.

“I know their situation was really bad and they urgently need something for their baby,” he said.

All the way down from South Auckland to Katikati in the northwest of Tauranga, our responders made dramatic pleas for helps for overstayers who were in a pitiful situation during the one-month nationwide lockdown.

“Any helps please donate,” another interviewee said.

As Kaniva News reported recently, the latest statistics on overstayers in New Zealand showed 2498 were Tongans.

Many of these people had little or no access to social welfare, justice or medical care. Simply  going to a public hospital could mean they risked being deported. This could also happen if they applied for a driver’s licence, or going to court.

Last month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that those who held temporary visas in New Zealand automatically extended to late September.

“Travellers with a temporary work student visa and limited interim visa expiring before 1 April 2020, who are unable to leave NZ will be able to stay legally,” she said.

Tongan workers in New Zealand on Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme contracts are covered for medical costs and sick leave under New Zealand’s Essential Services package.

Under their own compulsory insurance, the workers costs for doctors’ visits and medicine are covered, but the government will pay for sick leave and self-isolation if caused by the coronavirus.

Portugal new immigration laws – model for New Zealand

As Kaniva News reported last week, one European country has introduced new laws on illegal migrants that could prove a model for New Zealand.

We said in that article that this would be good news for Tongans, who have traditionally made up the largest group of overstayers in New Zealand.

Laws recently introduced in Portugal are designed to regularise the status of illegal migrants more sympathetically.

Under new rules recently introduced in Portugal, illegal immigrants who have worked in the country for more than a year and paid taxes for the past 12 months may obtain a residence permit for humanitarian reasons.

The new residency permit will be for two years and will help applicants to apply for legal residence in Portugal and act will help the country having more documented immigrants instead of illegal.

The Portuguese programme has been described as a more human approach to regulating immigration and helping the employment market.

Those who need helps with their immigration status can contact Koliniasi Vanisi on 0212941443

The main points

  • A Tongan consultant in Auckland said if any overstayer in New Zealand was in a very difficult situation and wanted help he would share his bread with them.
  • Kaniva News has interviewed a number of Tongans this morning through Facebook massenger in an attempt to delve deeper into the overstayers’ situation, which some interviewees described as distressing and devastating.

For more information

Tongan seasonal workers doing essential jobs qualify for help under NZ emergency package

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