A former Immigration Minister for New Zealand says a woman who works at a marae has been unfairly denied a work visa alleging the Immigration officer is anti-Māori and racist. Tuariki Delamere says the 30-year old woman has to leave the country because the officer told her 'she doesn't do the work of a restaurant manager' at Awataha Marae, such as planing kitchen menus for guests. Mr Delamere told Kawekōrero it's racist to think a marae doesn't plan a menu and has lodged a formal complaint. The woman at the centre of the controversy, Minalben Prajapati says she's been working at Awataha for over two years as a Wharekai Manager and Immigrations' decision to deny her a work visa is unfair.
"They just made a quick decision and said that I'm not eligible and my role is not genuine," says Prajapati.
Mr Delamrere sent a complaint to the immigration officer at the Ministry of Business and Innovation alleging racism and anti-Māori sentiments. He then forwarded the correspondence on to Ministers of Government including Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway, Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Fa'afoi, and seven of Māori MPs in Labour. Minister Fa'afoi's office responded saying it's not the Minister's normal practice to comment on the processing of applications and referred his letter to Immigration New Zealand for reply.
Prajapati says, "We have more than 300 hundred people coming and just keep catering for them so we don't have only just Māori crews in, we have different crews in because we have different people coming as well."
Chief Executive of Awataha marae Anthony Wilson says she's faced with the prospect now of having to return home and doesn't believe this particular case was given an adequate hearing.
"I would like to see at the absolute minimum that it be re-opened and that we have an option to revisit this case in such a way that it gets a fair hearing because I don't think it's been given a fair hearing to date," says Wilson.