20 Feb 2013

Cleared criminal histories spark investigations into Tongan nationals in New Zealand

9:40 am on 20 February 2013

New Zealand's Minister of Immigration has instructed officials to investigate the whereabouts of Tongan nationals in New Zealand, who have undeclared criminal histories.

The police in Tonga have identified 172 cases where officers cleared criminal records.

Michael Woodhouse says an immediate hold has been put on Tongan visa applications that need a police clearance, until Immigration New Zealand can be satisfied with the integrity of the Tongan police clearance process.

He says about 40 people with false clearances may be in New Zealand, and he's asked officials to put the highest priority on finding any Tongan nationals who have committed serious crimes.

Mr Woodhouse says it's totally unacceptable for anyone to enter New Zealand by providing misleading information, and he is taking the matter very seriously.