11 Jan 2019

Over 4500 people excluded from entering country last year

1:06 pm on 11 January 2019

More than 4500 people were denied entry to New Zealand last year, Immigration New Zealand says.

Immigration to New Zealand.

Immigration to New Zealand. Photo: RNZ

In its latest annual report, Immigration said it screened millions of non-New Zealand citizens who were intending to travel here.

But 3378 people were prevented from even boarding their plane to New Zealand.

More than half of them didn't have a visa, while just over 900 didn't meet entry requirements.

There were 400 people who were subject to alerts, 200 who didn't have a valid travel document and 100 who had false passports or there were concerns about their identity.

Another 1201 people were denied entry to New Zealand at the border.

Among those denied entry was an Estonian woman, who claimed she was coming to New Zealand from London on holiday.

On arrival in Auckland, Immigration said the routine Risk Targeting Programme identified that she had previously been in New Zealand on a working holiday visa.

Customs searched her luggage and discovered a large quantity of lingerie and leather outfits.

Immigration then found an advertisement on a New Zealand website for the traveller revealing she offered companionship and sexual services.

During an interview, the woman revealed she had been deported and excluded from Australia for three years.

Immigration said while providing commercial sexual services was not unlawful in New Zealand, it was unlawful to do so on a temporary visa.

The woman was refused entry and departed on the next available flight.

In another case, Immigration received credible information that an Australian man travelling to Queenstown was an active patched member of the Mongols, an outlawed motorcycle gang.

The man was travelling with other family members.

Although the man claimed that he had left the gang two years ago due to family commitments, Immigration concluded that he was, or was likely to be, a threat or risk to public order and refused him entry to New Zealand.

Immigration worked closely with the police, who placed the man in custody and he left Queenstown on the next available flight.

Immigration said as the number of travellers crossing the border continues to rise, it'll have to ramp up efforts to keep it safe.

It said future advances in screening technology will mean it will be able to more easily identify potentially risky passengers.