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Masterton family avoids deportation

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

An eleventh-hour stay of execution has saved a Masterton family from being split apart, at least for the time being.

Immigration officers swooped on the Samoan family’s home after dark on Monday last week with a warrant to deport the father and three school-aged children as overstayers.

The father and the oldest son, 18, were taken into police custody in Wellington.

Intervention by Pacific Island advocates Luther Toloa and Mena Antonio set in train a process which has resulted in the immigration ministry putting a stay on proceedings, allowing a three-month reprieve from deportation so the family crisis can be sorted out.

Mr Toloa said he had been alerted to the pending deportation a couple of days after the night raid on the home, and he and Ms Antonio swung into action.

They enlisted the help of the three MPs who represent Wairarapa, and with list MP Marama Fox leading a “very strong advocacy” were able to get the reprieve in the nick of time.

“We got a reprieve for the two girls, aged 16 and nine to remain, and the deportation order on the father and 18-year-old son temporarily revoked,” Mr Toloa said.

The stay of execution on the warrant came at the last gasp.

“A plane had been booked to fly the two men out on Friday afternoon and we got news of the stay in the morning,” Mr Toloa said.

“By that time other family and classmates of the school kids had gathered at Wellington airport to say goodbye.”

He said the family, who had been in New Zealand for 14 years, had been warned that action would be taken against them and were remiss by allowing things to drift and not to get things sorted so they could legally remain.

“I want to warn other Pacific Islanders living here not to allow this to happen to them.

“The youngest girl in this family had been born in New Zealand and they had been working with a lawyer in the belief they still had time to manoeuvre about remaining here.

“I know government officials have a role in upholding the law but there has to be a better way of resolving things than bursting into a private home at 9pm knowing children are in the house

“Even if a father and mother have done wrong [by not sorting the paperwork] I don’t know if it is reasonable for children to have to pay for the sins of the parents,” Mr Toloa said.

Mr Toloa said the family “as far as I know” had a clean record while living here, and four adult sons were not troubled by immigration as they were all New Zealand citizens.

The two older children at risk are students at a Masterton secondary school whose principal said he was very relieved a to know the family had been granted the reprieve.

“Both the students are significant contributors to the school and have a good and bright future.

“It is pleasing to know they are likely to be able to continue their education here,” he said.

The 18-year-old was only two years-old when the family came to New Zealand and the girl was a baby.

“This is the only life they know,” the principal said.

Mr Toloa said Pacific Island families should not “assume things are okay” as far their rights to stay in New Zealand were concerned.

If they were in any doubt about their status they should get in touch with a lawyer and be forceful in ensuring things were kept rolling along.

“But there are plenty of others who can point them in the right direction, like church leaders or the Wairarapa Community Centre staff,” he said.

Since the reprieve was granted the family and those advocating for them have held meetings as a means of trying to find a path forward.




  1. Well done Immigration for picking up on this! As far as I’m concerned no harm was done. NZ do have immigration laws, that we have to abide by. If the agencies failed, what was holding them back from going to Immigration to sort their papers out? It doesn’t take 14 years to get residency here in NZ. People saying it’s not a crime? Living in NZ ILLEGALLY is a crime! So before you all think you know how the immigration system works, please do some research before leaving comments attacking Immigration and police. Most people here in NZ who have migrated from foreign countries have all gone through immigration to get to where they are now with their residencies and/or citizenships – yes it is a process and money talks, but what makes this family different from the rest that are here in NZ trying to build a future for their families?

  2. I am the niece of the father in this picture and have been a close member of the family was like a older daughter to him as well. All I have to say that it wasn’t that they had just sit around and did nothing at all. They had paid thousands and thousands of dollars to so many agencies and different people they believed they would help but unfortunately it was like money throwing out the window without satisfaction… Hope there is going to be a very happy ending and a permanent granted for the sake of innocent young kids.

  3. Leave them alone,immigration and police use your time to protect the community from the real criminals,those people are good,they never committed any crime,if you call love crime then that’s why they stay in NZ 14years.they love there 6 other children and 10 grandchildren who are All NZ citizens,not to mention that man’s parents are both NZ citizen and they both buried in NZ,,THE 3 sisters and 4 brothers as well with all their many children and grandchildren,the family has been begging the government of NZ cost them extremely amount of money to pay for solicitors.but with no success..whilst in Nz for 14 years the whole family are supporting them not a cent from the government,please be fair and give them a chance let them stay.they are good people.

  4. This family has a massive Impact in the Masterton community, they have every right to be here if not immigration should have sorted it 14 years ago. Sending them back is throwing their life and dream away!!!! Their lives are here.

  5. What a lot of bull. This family has been here for years, they have a clean record & kids r good students with bright futures & yet the powers that be want to deport them!!!! Yet we have others commiting crimes that should be deported but they aren’t! Wake the hell up & leave these ppl alone just give them their citizenship.

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