17 Jun 2004

Visa mixup leads to a Tongan official accusing New Zealand of insisting she take a pregnancy test

8:20 pm on 17 June 2004

A misunderstanding over a visa has led to one of Tonga's most senior officials accusing New Zealand of refusing to let her into the country unless she take a pregnancy test.

Meleseni Lomu, Tonga's acting secretary for finance, was to have accompanied Tonga's finance minister last week for a 4 day meeting of Pacific Forum economic ministers in Rotorua.

But she says she pulled out of the trip after being told by New Zealand officials that she would have to take a pregnancy test or undergo an interview to get a visa.

Mrs Lomu has since realised that she was already in possession of a multiple entry visa, but she says its still very insulting to Tongan women to expect them to take pregnancy tests in order to visit the country.

"very private matter - it's very insulting for us women. The other thing is that only women in Tonga are going through these tests as far as I know. I don't know why we had to be penalised for one case which they claimed that one person went to New Zealand and had a baby there...unless they change it I am not willing to go to New Zealand - I can forgo the trips"

Meleseni Lomu.

New Zealand's Immigration Minister, Paul Swain says there is no mandatory policy requiring women to undergo a pregnancy test to obtain a visa.

Mr Swain says a pregnancy test for a senior government official who travels regularly to New Zealand would be out of the question.