Tribunal overturns Immigration ruling Tongan family must leave

    This story by Kalino Lātū was first published by Te Waha Nui

    A Tongan family has been allowed to stay in New Zealand after a tribunal overturned an Immigration New Zealand ruling that their father’s death meant they had to leave.

    ‘Alaimoana Tautua’ā and her five children had been told their application for a residency visa had been declined because ‘Alaimoana no longer had a partner to support her.

    ‘Alaimoana and her late husband, along with their two youngest children, arrived in New Zealand in 2016. The rest of the family arrived later.

    Their five children, aged between 12 and 21, were all born in Tonga.

    ‘Alaimoana’s husband, ‘Ahoia Tautua’ā, was buried in Auckland in 2019 after dying of kidney failure.

    With her Essential Skills work visa due to expire on December 14, ‘Alaimoana sought the help of a Tongan immigration consultant to challenge Immigration New Zealand’s decision.

    When deciding the family’s appeal, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal found the Tautua’ā family had special circumstances allowing them to stay in New Zealand.

    In its decision the tribnal said: “The Tribunal finds that, considered individually and cumulatively, the appellant’s and her children’s circumstances are special such as to warrant a recommendation to the Minister of Immigration for consideration of an exception to Government residence instructions. The Tribunal refers in particular to the best interests of the youngest two children and the interests of family unity.”

    A psychological report submitted to support the family’s application, seen by Te Waha Nui, said if the family were sent back to Tonga they would face “psychological vulnerability”.

    The tribunal asked the Minister of Immigration to consider granting them a residence class visa, “as an exception to residence instructions”.

    The family said prayer, determination and perseverance led to the turnaround.

    ‘Alaimoana said it was a challenging journey, but she was determined not to give up.

    She said she appreciated her immigration consultant’s unreserved commitment.

    “I wish the whole world is mine so I can give it to him,” she told TWN.

    “We prayed and prayed and I trusted God would never leave me and my family alone.”

    Immigration consultant Koli Vanisi, of the Pacific Immigration Consultancy, said the case was one of the most difficult he had worked on.

    “It just because there was nothing really concrete in their circumstances for me to make a stand against the immigration decision,” he said.

    He said it involved a lot of research about the United Nations law and how it could be used as a weapon to challenge the New Zealand immigration policy and regulations.

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