Samoan Woman Entered NZ with False Identity 30 Years Ago, Shown Leniency by Immigration Tribunal

A Samoan citizen entered NZ under a false identity that allowed her to hold a New Zealand passport, then stayed for more than 30 years. SGN file photo.

A Samoan citizen who entered New Zealand over 30 years ago under a false identity that allowed her to hold a New Zealand passport, has been shown leniency by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal who have recommended that the Immigration Minister considers her application for residency under  circumstances.

The woman was issued multiple passport renewals over the years. Image: Samoa Global News.

As first reported by Anna Loren of Stuff,  the woman, whose name has been witheld by the Tribunal to protect her NZ-born children, obtained a New Zealand passport in the name of a Tokelauan national who was a member of her extended family.

“Tokelau being within the Realm of New Zealand, those from the territory are citizens by birth and can hold Kiwi passports”.

The woman, known as MX in the Tribunal’s decision, was born in Samoa in 1971. In August 1991 the woman travelled to New Zealand as a citizen using her assumed identity and has remained living in New Zealand for over 30 years.

She met her Fijian-born husband in late 1995, and the couple married in February 1996. Using the assumed identity, she supported her husband for residence under the (then) Family (Marriage) category, and his application was successful in November 1996. The husband subsequently became a New Zealand citizen.

The couple went on to have three children, born in 1996, 1999 and 2001, each of whom are New Zealand citizens. Each child’s birth certificate records their mother’s assumed identity.

In 2000 the woman’s fraud was discovered when the relative whose identity she’d assumed applied for a New Zealand passport.

In March 2000, following investigations by the New Zealand authorities, MX admitted to the passport fraud. She was convicted of using a false passport and presenting a misleading arrival card at the airport.

She was sentenced to 100 hours’ community service and Immigration New Zealand served her with a removal order.

However, MX did not leave Aotearoa and instead, has mounted a series of appeals in the past 20 years asking for a residency visa, saying she had “nothing to return to” in Samoa.

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal in their Octover 2022 decision, confirms the decision of Immigration New Zealand to be correct in terms of the applicable residence instructions, but considers that the special circumstances of the appellant are such as to warrant consideration by the Minister of Immigration as an exception to those instructions.

The Tribunal goes on to request that New Zealand’s Immigration Minister consider the special circumstances set out in their report and adding that, “she has lived in New Zealand for 30 years and makes a contribution through her employment and tax payments.”

“The Tribunal considers that the appellant and her family require finality as to her ability to reside lawfully and permanently in New Zealand. The family have had decades of uncertainty as to their wife’s/mother’s future, albeit of the appellant’s own making..

“They have only ever lived together in New Zealand; the husband and children have never lived in Samoa; and the appellant has made only one short visit there in the last 30 years..

The Tribunal concludes, “Her strong family nexus and settlement in New Zealand, and the interests of her immediate family, all of whom are New Zealand citizens, warrant a recommendation that the Minister of Immigration consider the grant of residence to the appellant as an exception to instructions.”