Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tongan couple facing imminent deportation granted temporary visa

Loasi Latu and her brother Viliami. Photo: RNZ
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John Pulu | Presenter/ Reporter/Director

A week after they were supposed to leave the country the associate immigration minister grants Tongan couple a lifeline.

Loasi Latu and her husband are relieved they are able to remain in New Zealand after the associate minister of immigration Chris Penk granted them a five-year temporary visa. 

This comes after they were told by immigration officials they had until Friday 28 June to leave the country voluntarily after overstaying in New Zealand for more than two decades.

The couple’s wider family had rallied to try and halt the deportation as Loasi is a full-time carer for her brother Viliami, a New Zealand resident who needs 24-7 support for a disability and epilepsy.

“I want to thank my family and everyone who helped us. I am able to continue looking after my brother,” Loasi says.

The Latus had previously filed an application for residency before their visas expired but claim they were misled by an immigration advisor who took their money and left them without residency. 

They tried applying for permanent residency in 2023 but was declined.

Photo: RNZ

The family provided evidence in a special medical report emphasising that Loasi is the only one Viliami will listen to and feels safe around. 

They argue that putting him into state care would go against human rights and healthcare legislation, jeopardise his quality of life and ultimately, his longevity.

The family even commissioned an economic analysis from The Commercial Advisory Partnership to show the Latus have provided and can continue to provide significant economic benefits to New Zealand with an estimated $2.14 million in future economic benefit.

An online petition asking the associate minister of immigration to review their case, gained over 13,500 signatures. 

Latu’s niece Karina Kaufusi is overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the wider public.

“Our hearts are full of hope. It’s a step in the right direction and it just gives us time to look for a long-term solution.

“We are all very exhausted,” Kaufusi says.

“It’s not over yet there is still more work to be done and we’ll have discussions with immigration New Zealand and our lawyers about what is the next step we can do to apply for permanent residency.”

Latu’s nephew Otako Kaufusi says they’ve achieved their goal of keeping their family together but now they also want to look after Latu’s health.

“Our aunty Loasi went through breast cancer and we’ll be able to access private treatment for her so staying here is a chance for us to continue that.”  

They have shared the good news with their uncle Viliami (aka Pila) and although he cannot verbally communicate, he is smiling.

Karina says their story will give others in a similar situation some hope.

“We’ve all learnt that if there is a case that’s just and about humanity and making things right, people will support you.”

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