Tuvalu News

NZ Minister New of Assault Charge

New Zealand Herald 19.05.2003

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel will review a decision to grant an overstayer a permit to stay in New Zealand and receive life-saving dialysis treatment if it is found he has undeclared criminal convictions.

It has been revealed that Senee Niusila, of Tuvalu, was charged with assaulting his wife in March.

Yesterday, the 30-year-old's family said he did not have a criminal record here or overseas.
Ms Dalziel said she was aware of the assault charge against Mr Niusila when she made the decision to cancel the removal order served on him last month. She did not know if he had been convicted.

Ms Dalziel said she had taken into account an affidavit and letter written by Mr Niusila's wife in support of her husband after the incident and was "highly unlikely" to review her decision on that basis.

"If there's nothing else to it, I would exercise the waiver in his favour," Ms Dalziel said.

In the letter, Mr Niusila's wife, Teremoana Nga, said she was angry when she gave her statement to police on March 20 and had said things she did not mean.

"I really want my husband back. I humbly plead to the authorities to please give me and my husband another chance to raise our family together," the letter said.

"During our marriage relationship, I have found my husband to be a supportive, hard-working, caring and very much a loving father to me and my two children.

"We now have a 1-month-old son together, whom we both cherish and adore. We love our little family very dearly and believe that we can both work closely together to achieve a long-lasting and happy family relationship."

Last week, Ms Dalziel granted Mr Niusila a two-year temporary work permit, enabling him to continue to receive life-saving dialysis at Auckland Hospital.

He had faced the possibility of treatment being withdrawn under tough new cost-cutting measures limiting the number of overseas patients who use the health system.

Doctors said that without treatment he would die within weeks.

Yesterday, Ms Dalziel said the two-year work permit granted to Mr Niusila, who was eligible for residency on the grounds that he had married a New Zealand citizen in 2001 and had a New Zealand-born child, was issued subject to character checks and he would have to provide a police clearance certificate from Tuvalu.

The New Zealand Immigration Service would "take care of the New Zealand end".

"It was certainly my intention to have my special directions subject to character. I waived the health grounds given the circumstances ... all the advice I have from the wife and others is there are no other convictions."

Ms Dalziel said if it turned out Mr Niusila, who came to New Zealand in 1998, had convictions that he had not declared, she would need to review the decision.

Teremoana Nga told the Herald yesterday that her husband did not have any convictions. The pair had fought over a family matter and Mr Niusila, who was tired after returning from work, had punched her. It was the first time he had hit her.

"He's a caring man ... From my point of view I got married for better or worse."

Teremoana Nga believed her husband had earned his treatment and said the family wanted to concentrate on him getting better. "We want to move on. We want to live our lives, that's what we want to do."

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