While their closest neighbour Australia continues its ongoing battle with asylum seekers, New Zealand has failed to learn from the litany of mistakes of their Tasmanian cousins. New Zealand has maintained one of the world's best records on refugees and, with an almost unique remoteness, has never faced the prospect of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
However, the arrival in Australia last month of a group of Chinese asylum seekers who claimed to be headed for New Zealand has prompted a response from the country. Legislation was passed recently which would allow New Zealand immigration authorities to detain any potential large groups of asylum seekers arriving in New Zealand for up to six months on a single warrant.
New Zealand immigration authorities have spent NZ$20,000 (£10,000) on a simulated mass arrival of illegal immigrants...read more.
Immigration New Zealand is reportedly considering granting a South African grandmother a visa which will allow her to remain in the country during her last few months...read more.
New Zealand simulates mass boat arrival
The operation is taking
place in Auckland
New Zealand immigration authorities have spent NZ$20,000 (£10,000) on a simulated mass arrival of illegal immigrants.
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy and Customs Minister Maurice Williamson confirmed a staged mass arrival of over 100 role playing asylum seekers took place in Auckland.
Despite never having received a single asylum seeking vessel, the ministers claim it is a situation they need to be prepared for.
"This is a major exercise to make sure New Zealand is fully prepared to respond to a mass arrival by sea of potentially illegal immigrants," said Mr Guy. "A freighter with 500 asylum seekers from Asia made it all the way to Canada two years ago so New Zealand is certainly within reach."
The operation follows an amendment to the Immigration Act which is intended to deter human traffickers to target New Zealand. The amendment has been labelled as 'seriously flawed' by the Refugee Council of Australia.
Mr Williamson said the operation ran "very smoothly" but urged the country's immigration officials not to become complacent over the issue.
The full operation, titled 'Exercise Barrier', started in May and will run for eight weeks.
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Terminally ill grandmother to be granted a New Zealand visa?
New Zealand immigration
authorities are considering
the woman's application.
Immigration New Zealand is reportedly considering granting a South African grandmother a visa which will allow her to remain in the country during her last few months.
Elizabeth Liebenberg, 61, had been told she would need to leave the country and return to South Africa as the restrictive lung diseas, moderate aortic stenosis and hypertension she has been diagnosed with presents too large a burden on New Zealand's medical facilities.
Doctors claim Mrs Liebenberg's life expectancy is 'measured in months rather than years' and warned that if the grandmother was forced to fly, her life would be in danger.
After receiving extensive media attention following her plight to remain with her children and grandchildren, New Zealand immigration authorities confirmed that they are considering granting her a special New Zealand visa on exceptional humanitarian grounds.
"Mrs Liebenberg's visa expires on 31 August and she currently has an appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal," said an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson.
"Any application will be assessed on its merits including the humanitarian factors we acknowledge are present in her current situation."
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the New Zealand Visa Bureau.
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