One for the non-Kiwi readers of this blog. What did Immigration NZ think the wives were going to bring into New Zealand - a hacksaw and a file? A lousy bureaucratic decision in the season of goodwill.
Rena wives refused NZ entry
Stuff NZ 15:09 06/01/2012
The wives of the two Filipino men charged over the Rena grounding were refused New Zealand visitor's visas just days before Christmas.
The captain and the navigation officer of the stricken ship have been kept at secret locations, thousands of kilometres away from their families, since the Rena struck Tauranga's Astrolabe Reef Taranga three months ago.
Coastmere, the owners of the Rena, planned to bring the men's wives to New Zealand during the holidays - but their visas were declined by Immigration NZ, Philippine Embassy consul Giovanni Palec said.
"The second officer was expecting it to go through, but they received this unfortunate news. We found out just before Christmas. They informed us that their wives weren't coming. They probably have to submit more document requirements to the New Zealand embassy in Manila," he said.
Immigration NZ this afternoon confirmed the visas were turned down, but could not comment further about the case without a privacy waiver.
Branch manager operations support Michael Carley said as a general rule a visitor's visa would not automatically be granted to the spouse of a person facing court action, simply for the purpose of visiting that person.
"Every visa application is considered on its individual merits in terms of whether the applicant meets policy requirements, including the bona fides of the visitor. Where there are humanitarian reasons we will consider these as part of the assessment of the application," he said.
Despite being away from their wives and children, Palec said the men were not alone during the holidays as Filipino families invited them to Christmas dinners.
"Members of the Filipino community in the areas they are staying in have been kind to them as well as other nationals and Kiwis. "They haven't had any problems and appreciated the hospitality being extended to them."
The captain and the navigation officer were arrested a week following the Rena grounding, charged under the Maritime Transport Act for "operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk". The charges carries a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in prison or a fine up to $10,000. The men were also charged under the Resources Management Act for the "discharge of harmful substances from ships or offshore installations", which carries a maximum penalty of a $300,000, or two years' imprisonment, and $10,000 for every day the offending continues.
Last month, the captain faced four fresh charges, and the navigation officer faced three more after it emerged that they had allegedly altered the ship's documents in the wake of the grounding. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment. The pair were remanded on bail without plea and were granted continued name suppression. They would reappear in court on February 29.
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