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Loasi Latu, left, and her brother Viliami.


Law & Order

‘There is a chance’: Tongan couple granted visa amid deportation notice

Loasi Latu and her family are urging others in similar situations to speak up.

A Tongan couple facing deportation has been granted a five-year temporary visa to remain in Aotearoa.

Loasi Latu and her husband were given until last Friday to leave New Zealand.

They previously applied for permanent residency through an agent, and this was before the expiration of their student visas. But it turned out to be unsuccessful.

They only found out years later that they had been living unlawfully in New Zealand since 2004.

Latu is the main caregiver for her intellectually disabled brother, Viliami, and a petition pleading for them to remain in New Zealand received over 10,000 signatures.

The family submitted a special application for an exemption which was declined earlier this year and more recently, presented new evidence for Associate Immigration Minister Chris Penk to review.

Latu’s niece, Karina Kaufusi, told PMN News on Friday that “the Associate Minister of Immigration personally looked into our case.

"It’s not the permanent residency that we were hoping for, but it does give us time to work with New Zealand Immigration," Kaufusi said.

A spokesperson for Penk said in a statement: “The minister was presented with additional information from a medical professional which formed the basis for his decision.”

Latu’s nephew, Otako Kaufusi, is urging families in the same situation as his aunty and uncle to speak up.

“If anything, this whole experience has taught us that if there's injustice and if you don't believe it's fair, stand up, and fight for what you believe in. When things don't look like there's a chance, there is a chance.

“We collectively came together to try and reach out to certain stakeholders, you know, that's our local MPs, we reached out to media, social media, all of our networks.”

Latu said she was grateful for the community and family support.

“Oku ou ongo’i tau’ataina ihe taimini ke hoko atu eku tauhi eku tu’onga’ane.” (I feel free for now and that I can continue to look after my brother).

“Nau ongo’i fiefia aupito ko hono uhinga, keu nofo fakataha mo eku famili pea pehe mo hoku tu’onga’ane.” (I am very happy, the reason being I am able to remain with my family but especially my brother)

Watch the interview by Loasi Latu and her family members Karina and Otako Kaufusi on Pacific Mornings.