12 Aug 2021

Grounded Kiwis disheartened by border news

From Lately, 10:30 pm on 12 August 2021

Hong Kong-based New Zealander Martin Newell is trying to get a spot in MIQ so he can visit his unwell mother in Dunedin.

He tells Karyn Hay that watching Kiwi sportspeople in the Olympic Games has kept him going as he tries (so far unsuccessfully) to book his family into managed isolation so they can return and see his mum.

"I've been up at all hours of the night hitting refresh on computer screens, I've been working two screens at work, setting random alarms in the middle of the night just to try something else."

Closed boom gate on the flag background. Restricted entry or immigration ban 3D

Photo: 123RF

Martin Newell from the activist group Grounded Kiwis

Martin Newell from the activist group Grounded Kiwis Photo: HKU Business School

Newell is part of the group Grounded Kiwis who are petitioning the government for urgent changes to the MIQ system.

While the government's plan to reopen with the world is a step in the right direction, he says, there are critical short-term issues with MIQ that have not yet been addressed.

Although Newell thought being fully vaccinated (with Pfizer) would help him get back into New Zealand to see his mum, the government is giving preference to people who've been vaccinated in New Zealand.

"A lot of Kiwis overseas are wondering why their vaccination counts less."

The emergency allocation system for managed isolation vouchers especially needs an upgrade, Newell says, as other New Zealanders have an even more urgent need to return than he does.

"No-one signed up to be away in a multi-year pandemic. We are Kiwis, we want to come home and connect with our whānau, we want to see our tūrangawaewae.

"We accept that MIQ is there to protect New Zealanders and we're asking the government to increase supply, fix the booking system and just give us an opportunity to be able to do our quarantine and come home."