19 Nov 2015

Deported New Zealanders arrive in Auckland

10:05 pm on 19 November 2015

The Corrections Minister has responded to reports a group of deported New Zealanders arrived in handcuffs, saying Australian authorities "did what they had to do".

The charter plane on Christmas Island waiting to take the New Zealand detainees home tomorrow.

The charter plane on Christmas Island, waiting to take the New Zealand detainees home Photo: RNZ / John Campbell

The 12 New Zealanders, who were deported from Australia because of their criminal convictions, arrived in Auckland on a charter flight at about 10.30am this morning.

They were met at Auckland International Airport by police officers.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga was asked this afternoon about media reports the former detainees were handcuffed for the journey.

"Well, I didn't see it, so it's not for me to comment at this point about how they came out, but the Australian authorities did what they had to do to secure the plane. They were responsible for transporting them over."

The group has now left the airport, after being processed by Immigration New Zealand.

All of the former detainees were released after completing DNA swabs and identity verification, but eight will remain under police supervision after new legislation was passed under urgency yesterday by Parliament.

The former detainees arrived on a charter flight from Chistmas Island carrying their few personal belongings in plastic bags.

Plain clothes officers escorted them one by one out of the airport after they were processed.

Counties Manukau District Commander John Tims was at the airport for the arrival of the plane.

The 12 were escorted by police to the terminal and moved through a red zone where they were assessed, he said.

"DNA and fingerprints were obtained, and from that we can then make a risk assessment, and then take that information to work together in a multi-agency approach.

"[It's] about making sure that when the offenders go back into the community, they are kept safe, but also the general community is kept safe."

Mr Tims said, while the 12 had all come from Christmas Island, he would not go into individual cases.

One of the former detainees, who left the airport in a taxi this afternoon, told RNZ in a very thick Australian accent that he had been instructed not to comment.

Lack of info on detainees 'stinks'

The grandfather of one detainee who might have arrived in New Zealand today told Checkpoint he had tried but failed to find out if his grandson was on the plane.

The man, who RNZ News has agreed not to name, was among several men flown from Christmas Island to Casuarina Prison near Perth after the riot at the island's detention centre.

The man's grandfather said he had offered to have him live with him in Christchurch, but no one could give him any information whatsoever.

"The government's attitude absolutely stinks that relatives are not informed of where their loved ones are," he said.

"At this time, I can't help and I'm just wondering where the hell he is and his mother is just about beside herself."

Corrections' northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns, who was also at the airport this morning, said those under supervision would be treated the same as other offenders released into the community.

"We're providing transport to their accommodation, and for some of them we are sourcing the accommodation.

"Some of them will be with family members, as they would be with any other person coming out of prison on conditions, but accommodation does get fettered by Corrections to make sure it is suitable and in the right place."

Ms Burns said Corrections had worked very closely with the police, the Ministry of Social Development and prison reintegration group PARS to make sure all of the group settled into the community.

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