Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Final Chapter of the Vermaak Family’s story

July 6, 2014

Back in July 2012 I wrote about the Vermaak family’s plight in facing deportation.

Since that first story there has been a huge amount of silent work behind the scenes, but now it’s time for an update as a final decision has been made on their fight to stay in NZ. This update includes a brief recap of the situation.

Facing deportation

March 2012 – Work Visa Declined
Cherie had been working for the Christchurch City Council for 4 years in a skilled occupation but ran into trouble when she needed a new Police Certificate to arrive from South Africa.

With her work visa due to expire she needed this certificate to put in an application to renew her visa. Unfortunately South African certificates can take several months to arrive and the immigration department (INZ) refused to wait for this.

The decision by INZ meant that Cherie found herself in a very difficult situation very quickly. Without a valid visa she lost her job and only source of income despite backing from her Council boss. Being unlawful in New Zealand she and her two children were subject to deportation. Zelda who was 16 year old at the time was also no longer had the right to go to school.

May 2012 – First Media Story
This is where Tammy and I became aware of the situation and decided to get involved. The family was now without a source of income and, as temporary visa holders were not entitled to any kind of benefit or financial assistance. Imagine having no way get or earn money, no way to ix your situation.

In an incredibly short space of time they were in a desperate situation, being forced to sell their possessions to buy food and facing eviction from their home. When we first met the family they did not know which way to turn – running out of possessions to sell and in real danger or being thrown out onto the streets.

Thankfully the media attention generated a wave of support for the family which held off their eviction for a short time. The New Zealand public were fantastic!

I went to work to help where I could. First jobs were talking to the Ministry of Education to get Zelda back into school and asking the immigration department to hold off deportation action to give the family a little more time.

June 2012 – Facing Eviction
The amazing support generated by the New Zealand public helped for a short while but soon ran out and the family found themselves facing eviction with no money and no way to get any.

A tight Squeeze

A tight Squeeze

We couldn’t allow them to become homeless so Tammy and I opened our own home to the family of three and their cats Fluffy and Peebles.

It was a tight squeeze with our family (which included four cats), but they stayed with us for four months until they were able to get back on their feet.

October 2013 – Ministerial Intervention
Cherie had a job offer but INZ were unwilling to grant a visa so Mike took the case to Hon Kate Wilkinson, then Associate Immigration Minister. The first great break-through for Cherie and her children came when the Minister agree to Mike’s request and overturned INZ’s decision, granting Cherie a visa to work.

This involved about 500 hours of pro-bono work for the family, but put them in a position where once again Cherie could work her way out of this terrible situation. Cherie and her children have had a harrowing two years and just needed that chance. Once Cherie was able to start work she became eligible for residence again and we worked with her to lodge an application.

The Final Update
It has not been plain sailing – there have been serious ups and downs for the family – but we are thrilled to report that this week Cherie, Kyle and Zelda were granted New Zealand Residence. This means they no longer need to fear deportation and can finally have hope and security for the future.

Cherie and Mike

Cherie’s Request
Cherie has asked us to update all of the people whose support and generosity made such a difference to this family during such a difficult time.

Cherie, Kyle and Zelda wanted to thank the hundreds of people both locally and from around the world who were there for them in so many different ways. The family is now looking forward making long term plans for their new life in Christchurch New Zealand.

Tammy and I are catching up with Cherie next week for a celebratory curry :o).

I am really delighted with this result. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and this is why migrant advocates are so badly needed – to give a helping hand at the right time.

Mike Bell
Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser


News stories

This story has been followed through the media, here are a number of the news stories written.

 

 

New Work Visa Requirement for Canterbury Employers

January 15, 2013

Employers in Canterbury hiring migrants should be aware of a rule change notified by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), an additional requirement on employers hiring foreign workers to be implemented from 28 January 2013.

Hiring workers who do not have New Zealand citizenship or a residence class visa is relatively straight-forward, however to ensure New Zealand jobs and wages are protected there are a number of checks to be made first.

For example, when offering work for occupations not listed by the immigration department as being ‘in shortage’ employers must be able to show they have made a genuine effort to recruit New Zealand workers first.

January 2013 changes
Previously it has been a useful step in the process of hiring foreign workers to check with Work and Income who undertake a labour market test for the immigration department to ensure there are no suitable or trainable New Zealanders before visa applications are granted.

In addition to current requirements which include advertising vacancies to check there are no suitable or trainable New Zealanders before offering work to applicants requiring a Work Visa this change will make it mandatory for employers in the Canterbury, Selwyn and Waimakiriri regions to register most vacancies with the new Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub (CSEH).

Exceptions to this rule include the most highly skilled occupations and those already listed by the immigration department on the Long Term, Immediate or Canterbury Skill Shortage Lists.

Occupations are categorised into five ‘skill levels’ by the immigration department and this requirement affects any offer of work for an occupation classified at skill level 3,4 or 5 – the majority of occupations. As examples these occupations include:

  • Level 3: welders, secretaries and motor mechanics;
  • Level 4: truck drivers, clerical workers and receptionists;
  • Level 5: Labourers, hospitality and retail workers.

CSEH is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Ministry of Social Development and the Tertiary Education Commission intended to link employers with job seekers more quickly.

Details of this change can be found on the INZ website here: Visa rule helps streamline process for employers and ensures Kiwis first in line for jobs


I hope this move will speed up processing, but am concerned.

When labour market testing through Work and Income was introduced in 2008/09 processing times for Work Visas significantly increased (from as little as one day to as much as 70 working days).

The system has now settled down very well and over recent months the Work Visa applications I have lodged with the Christchurch immigration office have been processed in between one and three working days.

Hopefully the CSEH will be fully resourced so that it can keep up with the workload and heavy demand so that it does not slow what is currently a good process down.

Mike

– site architect, move2nz.com
– licensed immigration adviser, New Zealand Immigration & Settlement Services

Fully qualified

January 12, 2013

This blog has been a little quiet since September. Apologies to regular readers, we’re now be back up and running.

In July I started the brand new Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice course. This together with running a full-time immigration consultancy and the community website move2nz meant that something had to give as I needed to sleep sometime.

GCNZIA

I am very pleased to have now completed the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice.

This level 7 course was developed specifically for the Immigration Advisers Authority by the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in collaboration with the University of Waikato in New Zealand and Victoria University in Australia to ensure graduate advisers are fully qualified with a high level of competence.

The purpose of this qualification is to provide consumers of immigration advice with individuals who have attained sufficient knowledge, practical skills and attitudes to meet the Immigration Advisers Authority requirements for licensing as a New Zealand Immigration Advisor.

Graduates will be able to critically review and evaluate immigration matters to provide immigration advice in accordance with the competencies mandated by the Immigration Advisers Authority.

I jumped at the chance to take this course as soon as it was announced as I had been waiting since the introduction of immigration adviser licensing for a qualification to be created. Studying full-time on top of everything else was tough and the course was very in-depth, but it has been absolutely worth it.

The course of study covered immigration operational instructions in detail as you would expect to ensure competency but also put considerable emphasis on ethics and a deep understanding of the licensed immigration advisers code of conduct and how this affects everything a licensed immigration adviser does – ensuring:

  • each immigration adviser’s technical competence has been tested;
  • they have the tools to ensure they can run their businesses professionally and ethically;
  • greater awareness and closer working with the Immigration department.

On 12 December 2012 alphabetical listings worked in my favour and I became the first person in the world to be awarded this qualification.

Right now there are only 42 other people in the world to have graduated from this course and, as many of these are not yet licensed immigration advisers, I am the only licensed immigration adviser in the South Island to be formally qualified with the GCNZIA.

That’s pretty cool :).

Changing the immigration industry

What will this qualification mean for the industry? We will have to wait and see, but I expect that a level 7 qualification with strong concentration on ethical behaviour and the Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct is likely to be used by migrant consumers are an indication of who they can trust.

Sadly consumers will not be able to see on the register of licensed immigration advisers who holds the GCNZIA, but all you have to do is ask ;).

I am very hopeful that this qualification and stronger application of the code of conduct will ensure more migrant consumers have an ethical and competent adviser helping them move to New Zealand. A big step forward for immigration adviser licensing.

Mike

site architect, move2nz.com
licensed immigration adviser 201200212

Shocking update on Charmain Timmons’ fight against deportation

October 19, 2011

Why should Charmain Timmons and her children be deported from NZ because of crimes against her? Take action and sign the petition today.

As many of you will know move2nz has been supporting Charmain Timmons and her children through a campaign including facebook and a petition to help them avoid deportation from New Zealand which has attracted 1,042 signatures.

Background
Charmain arrived in New Zealand with her husband and two young children in December 2007. Many people migrate because of a problem and sadly some bring that problem with them. Charmain’s secret was that her husband was physically and emotionally abusing her.

In February 2009 the family was granted Permanent Residency in principle but the abuse was getting worse. Charmain asked for help and found the strength to leave the relationship. She got a protection order and started trying to build her life back again, moving and eventually beginning a degree course to become a much needed social worker.

Find out more/take action
You can help, please click on the links below to find out more:
‘Like’ the Facebook campaign
Sign the petition

Charmain’s now ex-husband breached that protection order and was convicted nine times spending six weeks in prison before leaving New Zealand.

Then a bombshell – in a crazy turn of events Charmain was told that because of her husband’s convictions as the principle applicant her Residency was to be revoked. The immigration department told her she wasn’t needed in New Zealand and should leave. Charmain asked again for help, but was poorly advised leading to deportation proceedings against her. Charmain’s final hope was an appeal to the Associate Minister for Immigration, Kate Wilkinson.

In the meantime Charmain’s ex-husband has been allowed to re-enter New Zealand on a two year visitor’s visa as he now has a New Zealand born girlfriend. While Charmain is being kicked out because of these crimes against her the perpetrator is bizarrely being allowed to stay.

move2nz became involved when we saw the headline Government tried to deport bashed wife. For Charmain and her children, now little Kiwis, to be deported because of the crimes against her seemed totally unfair. As we are not licensed immigration advisers it is illegal for us to help directly by advocating for Charmain but we had to do something and so we started our campaign which has now collected 1,040 signatures.

Action since July
I have been in constant contact with Charmain for the last couple of months, exchanging over 90 emails, but there has been no news to report while the Minister reviews the appeal. Charmain and her children wait but in the meantime a government case manager has been communicating with her.

The case manager advised Charmain to start a work visa application, leave the country and then apply to re-enter New Zealand to take up work. Charmain saw that there was no guarantee of being able to get back into New Zealand and resisted this, especially while her appeal was still being heard by the Minister.

What Charmain has told me recently sent me reeling and I had to update about this incredible twist.

Punish the victim – support the abuser
First Charmain’s ex-husband breached the protection order again and told her that he had been meeting with her immigration case manager and now knew everything about her private case. The case manager in question has denied this, however Charmain’s ex-husband does appear to know all about her private dealings with the immigration department.

Then Charmain received evidence that her ex-husband had applied to the family court for custody of their children should Charmain be forced to leave New Zealand temporarily as the immigration department had pressured.

Finally she was sent papers confirming that her case manager had told her ex-husband that he could apply for Residency, and if he did receive custody the case manager could lift the deportation order on the children and issue them with Student Visas instead. The same case manager who had adamantly stated he could not do this for Charmain.

So if the children are in their mother’s care, the innocent victim of family violence, they will be deported from New Zealand with her, back to a country they barely remember because of their father’s crimes. But if their care is passed to the man who abused their mother and has served time in prison as a result, they will be allowed to stay permanently in New Zealand with him.

This situation appears to be backwards, punishing the victim of violence while supporting the abuser.

A number of questions have now been raised about the way this case is being handled and the message New Zealand is sending to the world regarding attitudes to family violence and the rights of children.

What do you think about this?
Post your comments, or sign the petition to support Charmain and her children.

Māori academic says ‘white migrants are racist’

September 7, 2011

On 4th September a story appeared in the Sunday Star Times confirming that a government report (possibly this one) had found “Māori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pākehā or any other ethnic group”.

The article also highlighted Margaret Mutu, head of Auckland University’s department of Māori studies, who agreed with the findings.

Controversially Mutu called on the government to restrict the number of white migrants arriving from countries such as South Africa, England and the United States on the basis that they brought attitudes destructive to Māori.

“They do bring with them, as much as they deny it, an attitude of white supremacy, and that is fostered by the country,” she said.

Of course this is a sweeping race based generalisation which does not form any part of the government report.

Without supporting research it would be entirely unprofessional for anyone (especially a trusted academic) to make statements like this as they would be merely expressing personal views dressed as academic fact. Indeed, in an email to one move2nz.com member Mutu states

“It is unfortunate that they [white immigrants who oppose racism against Māori] are in the minority – as the research in this area has shown”.

To find out more on this subject I wrote to Margaret Mutu about her research on 5th September including the following query:

“From a background of having spoken individually to arguably more migrants from the UK, USA and South Africa than anyone else in New Zealand I am surprised by your statements which are in deep contrast to my own experiences.

“My understanding is that your statements are based on research which confirms that the majority of migrants from the UK, USA and South Africa are racist towards Māori. I would be very interested to examine your findings and to find out more about this research.

“If possible please would you direct me to the source of the research used as the basis of your comments. Having viewed the government research which began this discussion I can see that very different conclusions were drawn and I am anxious to compare the two sources.”

Margaret Mutu’s reply, received the following day was a stock reply and did not address my question:

“My research focuses on the activities of those immigrants from England and their descendants who have and continue to advocate and perpetuate racism as the means to justify their on-going theft of Māori land and resources. In saying this I refer you to the well-tested definition of racism of Paul Spoonely which states: Racism is the attitudinal or ideological phenomenon that accepts racial superiority, and, when present in those in power, justifies them using that power to discriminate against and deprive others of what is rightfully theirs on the basis of their race.

“I was careful to tell the Sunday Star Times reporter that most Pākehā immigrants will deny that they hold these attitudes and assumptions and that is probably because do not believe that their attitudes are racist. When Māori, who are on the receiving end of these attitudes, try to point it out, the reaction is invariably denial. Yet there has been extensive research conducted on this and the most comprehensive is that of the Waitangi Tribunal, where the bulk of this research is published. The country has been remiss in not ensuring everyone is better informed about the findings of the Tribunal. I recommend that you read the Tribunal’s reports.

“I have a number of publications in this area, the most recent of which is my book The State of Māori Rights published this year by Huia Publishers in Wellington.

This answer is of course interesting on many points and I don’t see much point writing back until I have viewed the research quoted.

Mutu’s answer presents sweeping generalisations about UK immigrants and their descendants similar in nature to those presented by racist groups like the white supremacists Mutu alleges I and so many other migrants support.

Mutu’s definition of racism is limited, only covering a single perspective of racism when talking about ‘what is rightfully theirs’. Personally I prefer Wikipedia’s definition:

Racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities that are entirely due to their race, however defined, and that, as a consequence, racial discrimination (i.e. different treatment of those people, both socially and legally) is justified.

One comment which I feel holds weight is that Māori issues and culture (especially what is rightfully theirs) is a field almost entirely unknown outside New Zealand. It would extremely difficult for people around the world planning to migrate to hold racist views about a group they have never had contact with and know nothing about.

Of course Mutu may be simply saying (as she appears) that all white people are racist and I expect this is why her comments have been referred to the Race Relations Board for investigation.

Mutu’s definition of racism ignores the many meanings and guises of ‘power’ when using a definition which could easily be applied to her own actions. In fact Mutu stated recently that her comments cannot be racist because she is not in a position of power.

Power is by no means the province of the majority as she implies and this is a ridiculous statement when applied to the universally accepted definitions of ‘racism’.

Unusually for an academic Mutu is blurring and confusing her argument: direction to read Treaty documents and Mutu’s mention of descendants moves away from her comments about recent migrants. I believe it is accepted by all that there were abuses of power by the British and that this is precisely what the Tribunal was set up to account for and set right, however I cannot see how the Tribunal findings could in any way be proof of inherent racism towards Māori in all white migrants any more than this most recent government report could.

This is not the research I was expecting.

Having spent quite a bit of time and effort attempting to get a Māori expert on to move2nz.com to present information to help educate and inform new migrants about Māori issues without success I feel that failure to ensure migrants are fully aware of these issues should be shared between all New Zealanders and is not in any way the sole province of Pākehā like me.

I shall try to read the publication Mutu has mentioned, however the title again does not suggest that the work supports the view she has expressed that all white migrants and their descendants bar a few ‘good ones’ (some of my best friends are Pākehā?) hold racist views towards Māori.

The timing of what appears to be an outrageous and unsupported statement is not surprising as the eye of the world centres on New Zealand. Mutu has publicly confirmed a desire to limit immigration to New Zealand on a racial basis rather than the current system which is based on merit.

Mutu’s call echoes the call of Tariana Turia in 2009 when she accused the government of using immigration to “stop the browning of New Zealand“. From my perspective as a migration commentator I believe it’s past time to conduct research into the significant changes in immigration since Turia and the Māori Party became part of government in 2008. Certainly over recent years immigration to New Zealand (according to government statistics) from the UK has dropped by 50% while there has been no apparent drop in interest or decline of applicants from this source.

In the meantime I think we should look carefully at the government report which started all of this and ask why there is such a fear of migrants. This, and not Mutu’s comments, should be taken seriously and I would be very interested in recruiting an expert to help migrants gain first-hand information on Māori culture, customs and language as part of the migration through move2nz.com.

Mike

move2nz architect

New Zealand to deport abused wife

July 24, 2011

Another story of the immigration department strictly adhering to rules when a little compassion might be in order:

Govt tries to depart bashed wife
A woman who has lived in New Zealand for four years and left her abusive husband has been denied residency because of his convictions for crimes against her.

The plight of Charmain Timmons and her children, who are now illegal immigrants, has outraged Women’s Refuge, which says the Paraparaumu family should not have to suffer twice because of his cruelty.

I get the feeling from this story that there are mistakes in this article (for example I’ve never heard of the NZ government issuing a 2 year visitor’s visa!).

This will be a case to watch. Presumably under strict rules although Charmain had been approved Residency in principle there would have been a requirement for her husband to continue in his job.

As this was not done (because of domestic violence) that would be a reason for an application to fail, however this story is suggesting that the reason is her husband’s abuse somehow reflecting on her.

I am rather disappointed with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, it seems to have changed entirely since being combined and reformed with other tribunals. Previously they appeared independent and sound, now they just seem to echo the government which is a real shame.

There appears to be an appeal to the Associate Minister so we’ll see what happens there. Such an appeal should be the safety net for people being treated unfairly however the current Minister very rarely intercedes.

Over to you Kate Wilkinson. Will you stop what appears to be a miscarriage of justice?

P.S. If anyone knows Charmain please ask her to get in touch with me. move2nz helped support and campaign on behalf of Martyn Payne, hopefully helping along the way, and would love to help in this case!

A meeting with the Immigration Advisers Authority

December 24, 2010

TV3 interview July 2009

TV3 interview July 2009

Many reading this blog may not be aware of move2nz’s fight for justice, but it still continues.

I have been pretty quiet on this issue since my last update in July titled Happy Anniversary, only mentioning our fight in my October article move2nz in the news when TVNZ ran an update on what had happened.

I promised an update when something happened and, well something has happened – things are starting to get very interesting!

What’s it all about?
For anyone coming across this topic for the first time you might not realise that move2nz used to be much more than the website move2nz.com. Until July 2009 Tammy and I ran and funded a range of unique services including a Migrant Centre in Christchurch offering free settlement support to several thousand familes each year.

But in July 2009 everything except the website was closed because the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) served a notice on me: a bombshell which rocked move2nz. In a nutshell the notice told me that I had broken the law (by presenting myself as a licensed adviser and providing immigration advice) and could go to jail for seven years if I did it again.

No smoke without fire
I had been in the middle of a media campaign through print, radio and TV to draw attention to what the immigration department was doing to what turned out to be nearly a thousand families – kicking them out of the country.

Naturally I asked what I was alleged to have done and unbelievably have been fighting ever since for an answer as the IAA just wouldn’t tell me. In self defence we had to close our Centre and cancel our overseas Seminars until we got to the truth.

This was devastating to move2nz as many people just assumed the IAA were correct. This included not only businesses but also Immigration department staff we had been working with for years.

Many people just assumed there was ‘no smoke without fire’ and said it served me right.

Getting to the truth
It’s been a long hard road fighting for 18 months to get information from the IAA. When they wouldn’t reply to me last year I asked for a copy of their file on me to see if I could work out what I was supposed to have done.

The IAA withheld nearly all (87%) of the file and I was forced to complain in October 2009 to the government’s watchdog the Ombudsman to ask for the documents. Of course after I complained the Registrar of the IAA refused to meet with me leaving this the only way to get information.

Owing to pressure from the Chief Ombudsman the IAA have gradually been forced to hand the information over bit by bit and this week we received the Ombudsman’s final report which upholds nearly all of my complaints. The Authority couldn’t block us any more and had to send us the information we needed.

Finally we understand
It made for interesting reading I can tell you and we were finally able to confirm our suspicians that the Authority had no basis to state I had broken the law.

Our case was strengthened when we asked for papers from the office of the Minister of Immigration which showed that important information had never been reported to the Minister, the evidence collected “circumstantial at best” and the reason for sending the original notice “flawed”.

So that was it – the Authority couldn’t tell me how I had broken the law because I hadn’t! So why the hell hadn’t they said so? From the files we could see that when the Authority had been told we would have to stop running our services to avoid prosecution until they told us what was going the team leader had actually directed the ‘investigator’ not to answer!

Enough’s enough
I wrote to the Registrar of the Authority Barry Smedts listing in date order the failures of the department he was responsible for in handling this case. To ensure the Minister knew exactly what was going on I sent him a copy of the letter and also sent copies to three MPs who know about the case and two reporters who have run stories about the case – Lincoln Tan of the NZ Herald and Kim Vinnel of TVNZ.

Within a week the Minister wrote to tell me that we had what we had been trying to get for a year: a meeting with the IAA. I have to hand it to Jonathan Coleman, although I have been critcising virtually everything he has done since he took the job in November 2008 he came through with this.

Meeting with the IAA
Tammy and I knew we had to be ready and prepared. In fact we spent several days preparing for the meeting – cross-referencing everything and putting together a set of questions which would leave us in no doubt as to what had happened and why.

We also asked our lawyer to accompany us for legal advice and asked Hon Lianne Dalziel, MP for Christchurch East to lend her considerable expertise to the discussion. As Lianne, a long time supporter of move2nz’s work in helping skilled migrants, was the Minister of Immigration who started off the legislation which created the IAA her attendance was an incredible help.

The meeting was held on Tuesday 21st December with Barry Smedts (IAA Registrar), George Mason (acting Deputy Chief Executive, Legal and International Group), and Catherine Albiston (IAA Senior Adviser Operational Policy). A conversation with Catherine had actually been the reason we got a meeting last year with another senior member of the IAA

Unfortunately the meeting had to be confidential to ensure frank discussion so I can’t give you a blow by blow account of what happened during the 4½ hours.

A great result
Suffice it to say that I got to ask some serious questions and put the Authority under the spotlight. Tammy got to tell the Authority staff just how massively this travesty has hurt us emotionally and financially – it’s not much fun to live in fear of losing everything including your home for a whole year.

Lianne did a fanastic job in keeping the meeting positive and moving forwards to a suitable resolution. Leroy our lawyer did a great job just being there as it turned out he had flu but had come because we needed him! I must admit that I was impressed by Catherine who was extremely competent and also with George Mason who handled this difficult situation extremely well.

I’m not sure what I am allowed to say at this stage, but Tammy and I were delighted with the progress made. We’re not finished yet, there is a way to go, but we have many of the answers we were looking for and the Authority will be putting together a public statement about the findings of the meeting to be released in the New Year.

Thanks to everyone who has sent messages of support to keep us going through this difficult time, especially our amazing friends Kim and George who were the reason we made it through last Christmas. Thanks to Lianne and many other people behind the scenes including Jim Anderton our local MP who have given us advice and support.

After living a nightmare for 18 months Tammy and I both feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off us. We would celebrate but we’re too tired.

What this does mean is that 2011 is going to be great year for move2nz and we hope to be able to lend our support to the IAA to help them get the rogue licensed immigration advisers closed down. I’d call that a win-win situation.

move2nz on TV One news 15th October!

October 14, 2010

Updated date

move2nz will be on TV tomorrow night, if you get a chance tune in!

TV One has been interested for a while: in September ‘09 hearing about our story reporter Kim Vinnell put in an Official Information request to the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) asking why they had attacked me and move2nz.

She was told at the time they would not give out information on individual cases and the Authority’s official media response attempted to downplay the situation with misinformation referencing complaints which the IAA has now apparently ‘lost’.

On Tuesday Kim telephoned to see how we were getting on 15 months later, what had happened with the investigation through the Ombudsman and whether we would be prepared to publicly talk about it.

“Yes!” we said.

With months dragging by, the Authority refusing to meet with us and no resolution in sight now seems like a good time to start speaking out about this injustice and abuse of power. Let the Department and Ministers understand that we will not be silenced through threats and bullying and that we will get to the bottom of this.

 

So yesterday the TV One News Crew came to our house for an interview about what had happened to us at the hands of the IAA, their attack, failure to explain their actions, how it affected us and what we have discovered since through the Official Information Act.

Apparently the IAA has refused to be interviewed on the basis that we have a complaint against them before the government’s Ombudsman. This is totally ridiculous as the complaint and investigation relate to the IAA’s failure to release information and so should be no barrier to discussing this issue. We haven’t entered an official complaint against them for their unexplained actions yet so this looks like avoidance behavior to me.

I am not surprised the IAA have refused to take part as they will not want to have to explain that the only active papers in their file related not to any illegal activity, but to my appearance on TV news in July 2009 criticising the Immigration Minister.

Free speech is not supposed to be a crime in New Zealand.

We have proof that the Authority’s attack was completely unjustified, without a shred of evidence, sign of any investigation or any reason at all beyond speaking out in the media.

However their actions caused:

  • The complete destruction of NZ’s most effective settlement support service;
  • Damage to our hard-earned international reputation which was shredded;
  • The end of our relationship with the immigration department as they believed the IAA’s accusations;
  • Devastation to the website which funded our free services through loss of our sponsors, advertising and other income;
  • Huge personal debts as we fought to cover the organisations costs, refusing to walk away and fighting bankruptcy;
  • Months of fear that we would lose everything including our home;
  • We became virtual recluses for 9 months fearing any contact with migrants might be illegal and see me sent to jail;
  • Tammy suffered badly from panic attacks and had to stop work for months;
  • Stress that put a strain on our marriage and family lives;
  • And placing us in the terrible position of having to say to desperate people who came to us for help that we couldn’t do anything.

The only reason we didn’t lose everything was because we worked like crazy to get through this and keep move2nz running.

 

We will continue to fight until we get answers, justice and an apology. The Authority, rather than making migrants safer has been actively working to make them more vulnerable, removing any independent support including many others who used to make a real difference.

The interview will be shown on TV One 6pm News tomorrow (Friday 15th Oct). I will also add a link on move2nz.com so this can be viewed online for all of you not in NZ or who miss the report.

Hopefully soon we will have some movement on this crazy situation which has dragged out for over 15 months!

New Zealand Immigration

March 9, 2010

First let me state that I am not am Immigration Adviser: I don’t have a license and I don’t give immigration advice. I am a New Zealand migrant and moved to Christchurch with my family in 2000. It wasn’t easy and I learnt a lot.

Since 2005 I have been working to help support and inform people thinking of moving to New Zealand and in the process have have learned a great deal more.

I don’t encourage people to move to New Zealand, instead I aim to inform and support people who have decided to.

This blog is intended to help you if you are living in New Zealand or thinking of moving here.



Good information

Research is the key to success, but most people thinking about moving to New Zealand have a difficult time getting what they need: real-life, unbiased information to help them make informed choices.  We are working to make a difference to that.

In 2005 my wife Tammy and I launched move2nz.com to bring together information and expertise on a wide range of areas important to new, settled and prosective migrants. This site also is home to a massive friendship network linking people from all over the world for greater support with around a third of the 33,000 members living in New Zealand.

move2nz.com was voted New Zealand’s Best Community Website in the prestigious People’s Choice NetGuide Web Awards in both 2008 and 2009.

Migrant Centre
Realising the majority of newcomers were encountering problems in 2006 we set up, funded and ran our own dedicated and completely free Centre for Migrants – New Zealand’s only such service.

Between 2006 and 2009 Tammy and I volunteered 40 hours a week each to provide direct, effective and completely free settlement support services to well over 10,000 families.

Seminars
Gathering huge amounts of information on the causes of migration problems we saw a pattern and in both 2007 and 2008 Tammy and I travelled back to the UK to present a series of Seminars aimed at providing proactive settlement support to help people avoid the problems we encountered every day: giving good information to them before the stepped on a plane.

The Seminars were held in association with the immigration department and were hugely successful with immediate and long term benefits apparent to the migrants we helped.


 

Current
Our organisation was all but destroyed in 2009 as a result of an incomprehensible government attack. move2nz.com is still going strong though and will hopefully be voted New Zealand favourite Community website for a third year running.

While I cannot currently offer migrants direct settlement support my newsletters and this blog are intended to help new, settled and prospective migrants build a better understanding of New Zealand immigration in 2010.

– Mike Bell
move2nz architect

Please note: I am not a licensed immigration adviser and none of the entries on this blog should be treated or used as immigration advice.