Ministerial intervention request by Tongan victims unsuccessful

The Hon Minster for Immigration New Zealand, Michael Woodhouse, has rejected an appeal to intervene in visa application of Tongans who were duped by fraudsters, Ms Katijah Lolohea and Ms Kolini Tatafu.

Ms Katijah Lolohea (38) was found  by the Immigration Advisers Authority, to have “amassed more than $6,000 from 13 migrants” mostly Tongans.

She has been ordered to repay her victims and sentenced to community detention.

Kolini Tatafu charged with three counts in relation to an immigration scam where Tongans were promised resident permit in exchange for cash is due to appear in court on June 19.

The victims of Lolohea and Tatafu under the guidance of Lawyer Nalesoni Tupou filed representations with the office of the Minister of Immigration seeking his intervention concerning their visa application.

In his response on May 16, Hon Woodhouse told Lawyer Tupou that “such a solution would not be an appropriate response”.

He reminded the Immigration Act 2009 states that any persons unlawfully in New Zealand have to “leave” the country.

In the wake of Kolini Tatafu’s action police set up a task force called Operation Augustine and victims were sent with letters informing them that they would remain safely in New Zealand until court proceedings are complete.

The victims of about 100 Tongans who met every month since last December also sought an opportunity to allow their application on “case by case basis” to be dealt with by Immigration New Zealand.

The minister also says in his letter to Lawyer Tupou that section 61 of the Act “allows for the granting of visas in special circumstances” but the immigration officers have no obligation to consider any such request.

Kaniva News understands the victims of Lolohea were recently advised to either seek licensed immigration advisors or lawyers to look at their application or leave the country and return to Tonga.

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