Church minister denies allegations against him following arrest and deportation of Tongan couple


The video is also published at the bottom of this story

A Tongan church minister in Auckland has denied allegations he reported a couple in his church who overstayed their visas to Immigration New Zealand.

Viliami and Pakileti Tutone were deported to Tonga last month after immigration officers raided the house they were living in and arrested them.

The couple were members of the Free Church of Tonga in Manukau and it has been claimed they were in New Zealand for 18 years before their deportation.

The community quickly took to Facebook and alleged the Minister who is in charge of the church Rev. Siaosi Siosifa had reported the Tutones.

But Rev. Siosifa has strongly denied the allegations.

He told Kakalu ‘o Tonga Newspaper he knew he was accused for reporting the couple but that was not true.

According to the paper, a person by a Facebook name Simote Funaki claimed he found out it was Rev Siosifa who reported the Tutones.

Siosifa told Kakalu he knew about a person who alleged and accused him on Facebook for reporting the couple to INZ.

Rev. Siosifa said he met the person and asked him for his source of information but the person just kept silent and did not say anything.

The raid on the couple was caught on camera and uploaded to Facebook last month.

The video shows a female immigration officer standing outside a house while Viliami was heard saying farewell in Tongan and waving to people in the room next door.

The immigration officer was seen waiting outside for Pakileti.

The video has been widely shared on Facebook by Tongan groups and community pages which have more than 10,000 members and likes.

Many commentators were outraged after they have learnt the arrest was made after a report to INZ by some members of the Tongan community.

The video has also been posted to Facebook by Olivia Tutone on Friday 23.

Her post received 1,300 reactions, 72 comments and 700 shares.

One commentator on her post said: “So sad! Ofa atu sis xx”.

‘Olivia replied: “I know sis we were just standing around since 5am and they finally went to the airport at 12 ?? ofa atu sis ??? xx”

“So sad, can’t believe our own people would do such thing,” another commentator wrote.

“The number of people who’ve stayed in the country after their visa expired has almost halved in the past 15 years, from an estimated 20,657 in 2000 to 10,848 in January this year”, Radio New Zealand reported.

Immigration New Zealand said it had negotiated the voluntary departure of many more overstayers rather than formally deporting them. More than over 1200 people left New Zealand voluntarily in the 2014-2015 financial year.

The video: