You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Immigration NZ has granted visas to controversial Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, but Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the decision does not condone their "repugnant views".
The pair, who have stirred debate on free speech in New Zealand before they have even arrived, have been issued specific purpose work visas to visit New Zealand for 10 days for public speaking events.
"INZ's decision in no way condones the views expressed by the pair, which are repugnant to this Government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders," Lees-Galloway said.
"I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand.
"However, the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised the pair meet."
Neither had been convicted of a crime, nor banned from the United Kingdom or Australia as had been reported, he said.
A group of politicians, lawyers, and commentators, calling itself the Free Speech Coalition, has hired a lawyer to sue Auckland Council for banning the far-right pair from using city-owned venues for their events.
It argues the council and or Mayor Phil Goff breached freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights Act, and freedom from political discrimination under the Human Rights Act, by refusing to allow the speakers to use the Bruce Mason Centre.
Southern has been hit with a $A68,000 ($NZ74,000) bill by Victorian police for protecting her Melbourne event tonight.
She arrived in Australia last week for a speaking tour in the main centres there. She told Sky News Australia's Andrew Bolt last night that the police were participants in protests against her because the bill for protection would encourage protests at other events and shut them down.