Guarding NZ's border

A Queenstown trip turned sour for some visiting foreign nationals who were refused entry when they arrived at the border, statistics show.

Pre-arrival screening resulted in 2462 passengers being referred to Immigration New Zealand during 2011-12, with 2165 of those allowed to enter the country. However, some were on restricted visas.

Immigration officials refused entry to 790 foreign nationals, including 646 at Auckland, 119 at Christchurch, 16 at Wellington and seven at Queenstown. More than half were refused entry because Immigration New Zealand staff did not believe they were genuine visitors and were likely to work illegally and were at risk of overstaying.

Malaysians (110) topped the list of nationalities refused entry for this reason, followed by South Koreans (56) and South Africans (43), according to Immigration New Zealand's annual ''Year at the Border'' report, released recently.

Risks posed by potential travellers were managed by Immigration Border Operations Centre staff, who denied boarding to 1529 people following pre-arrival screening.

This included cases of no visa (68), alerts raised (347), no onward ticket (135), entry requirement not met (93) and invalid passport (56).

Of those passengers, 163 were Chinese, 112 Fijian, and 97 Indian.

The report includes a case of a passenger dressed in South African rugby supporter's gear who was intercepted boarding a flight bound for New Zealand via Hong Kong.

The man had no visa but told immigration officials he was travelling to New Zealand to watch Rugby World Cup games, and had four tickets including one for an All Blacks v France encounter that had been sold out.

He could not recall where he had bought the tickets, and said some Ethiopian friends were in New Zealand to watch some matches, but could not recall their names.

Immigration was not satisfied he was a genuine visitor and the man, who wore a South African rugby jersey and scarf, was not allowed to board his flight.


The figures
Immigration New Zealand's Year at the Border 2011-12 report showed. -
• 4.8m passengers arrived in NZ.
• They contributed $9.6b to NZ's GDP.
• 2.6m short-term visitors.
• Almost 25% of people in NZ are migrants.
• 34 locations in 21 countries have direct flights to NZ.
• Nationals from 204 countries arrived, including Australia (833,000), United Kingdom (336,000) People's Republic of China (231,000), the United States (200,000) and France (77,000).
• Illegal migrants reportedly paid up to $US25,000 for false passports.
• Oldest person denied entry was 79.


- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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