Veronica’s Interview

Leaving NZ? share your exit interviews here

Leaving NZ? share your exit interviews here

My name is Veronica and 2 months ago I started considering studying in New Zealand.

One month ago I was accepted at one university in New Zealand for a Graduate Diploma and qualified for the same program at another institute. I was more interested in the second program, school told me I qualify but I needed to come to New Zealand asap as classes start at the end of October. I email Immigration NZ asking them if I can come as a tourist and apply for my student visa from inside the country and they confirmed yes, I can. .

On 22 september I arrived at Auckland Airport with my husband very excited for visiting and going to school in New Zealand. I was given a 3 month tourist visa which I asked for in order to arrange with the school details for my program, pay the fees and visit the great outdoors new Zealand has. 1 hours later I find myself at the immigration office my passport being withheld , not allowed to leave the airport and having the most traumatizing experience of my life. What I mean by that is hearing a customs officer walking in the immigration office and saying: NO MORE ROMANIANS. My husband and I are both Romanians.. Clearly that comment was made about us..

At Immigration office in Auckland Airport 3 people out of 5 held there were Romanians. The other two were held because they brought more cigarettes than allowed by customs. Consequences for holding romanian passports: 10 hours of interrogation , part of my documents withheld by immigration, sleep deprived for another 24 hours ( after a 36 hour long flight) . during the interrogation I showed immigration all my documents and explained why I should be let into the country: I had the acceptance letter from school, I had correspondence back and forth with another school which I was interested in ,email from Immigration that I can come as a visitor first, proof of funds to pay for school which costs 17 000 NZD, money to support ourselves while in New Zealand, hotel reservation made and places I wanted to visit as a tourist.

My husband was interrogated separately by another officer and part of his interview was asked questions like: where he has worked 8 years ago, why he left the job, who lives now in the accommodation we used to rent and other questions that had nothing to do with my studies in my opinion. This may sound weird to you but I have all our interviews taped and transcripts. Firstly we were told that we have the right to have a copy of the recording and the transcripts. later immigration supervisor changed her mind and wanted to give us only the transcripts. we managed to get both transcripts and tapes and I’m amazed how big chunks of my declaration are cut from the transcripts and relevant information is misinterpreted. . My english is not perfect but I can make myself understood even after 2 days of traveling and 24 more hours spent at immigration. the supervisor ‘s decision was made based solely on the transcript

There are a few facts that I would like to make public from this experience which I consider to be traumatizing . When we arrived at the airport the officer who made the comment : NO MORE ROMANIANS is the officer who pulled my husband aside. We were brought in front of another officer for a short interview. after explaining our reason to be in New Zealand he declared: I am satisfied, sounds good to me but I don’t understand what do they want from you ( referring to customs and immigration). We were taken at immigration office for some checks that “would last about 10 minutes” 12 hours later I am answering the same questions , i am fingerprinted videotaped and recorded.

We were not allowed to leave the airport and could go eat only after asking for permission. while in the airport we had to wear a sticker on our body so security would know we are referred at immigration. sarcastic enough, people working in duty free shops would refer to us as: hey, you are being sent back home. That is humiliating. being looked at as criminals. but that’s not exactly what happened.

I am being sent back to Russia not my home country, because that ‘s all Immigration could arrange for.Russia was the first stop on my way to New Zealand. from there I have to arrange tickets to my home country. If I were to refuse this flight, I would be in custody and escorted with handcuffs to Romania. I am talking here about two people with no criminal record, who have travelled to many places around the world and never had any problems but treated as criminals by Immigration New Zealand. I think a major abuse was made, I would like to make my story public and share documents that I have. Immigration New Zealand was kind enough to let us call our embassy but provided us with the wrong number. We eventually managed to get the right number and put in a complaint. But I would like to go further and share this with other institutions and newspapers , blogs.
Our visa was cancelled and could come back to New Zealand only with permission.

I strongly believe that our refusal to entry the country was based on racism. Immigration apologized and explained to us that the officer who made the comment ” NO MORE ROMANIANS” is from another department. To me is much the same as they work hand in hand : Immigration and Customs. And it was the first impact that I had with New Zealand: discrimination. Even if they tried to absolve themselves from this matter and put the blame on another department my question is: would you share such a harsh comment with someone who wouldn’t have the same views? Would you say : “NO MORE ROMANIANS” to an entire department who should be impartial if they wouldn’t agree with you? I think not. I think the comment made a clear impact on my refusal , especially in the way it was made: on an imperative tone.

Again, I can backup everything written above with documentation and I am hoping to put a stop on this discriminatory behavior from authorities.
Again, I came to New Zealand to study, to spend 17000 NZD from my own pocket to pay for school, had a letter of acceptance, Ielts test , return paid airfare, hotel booking and knowledge of New Zealand points of interested I wanted to visit.

Today is September 23 and I am at Seoul Incheon Airport. My passport was given back to me and in 19 hours we will depart to Moscow but by that time I will get home to Romania I hope my story will get around the globe so others won’t have to experience this. By sharing my story I would like other people who were in similar situation to come forward with their story so we can bring attention to this matter.

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8 thoughts on “Veronica’s Interview

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m very sorry for you. Let’s regard your experience as the universal sign to show us it’s better to stay outside New Zealand.

  2. Veronica….So sorry to hear this.Me and my wife just got back from New Zealand.She has a job offer at a university over there so we went to check it out.I did some homework before we left and started to dislike the country before I even got there.Now……It is all clear to me.After all that ugly stuff i have seen there i wonder why we killed our dictator:(It seemed to me worse than our communist times. Soooo happy to be back in Canada!
    Oh,I have to say it: Shame on you god forgotten place!

  3. There are many things that officially “do not exist” in New Zealand because they don’t collect information about it. “If you have no proof to show, then nothing’s happening, and if we don’t want to admit what’s happening or it’ll make us look bad, we’ll invalidate your proof or prevent you from submitting it”. That’s the way they do things there.

  4. Yes..refering to the statement “NO MORE ROMANIANS”, its really true, these people are very ill mannered in their speaking habits. in fact they haven’t learnt it thoroughly, being cut off from the world and secondly being too proud of their country that makes every other country stupid in their opinion.

    Secondly, wrongly labeling nz as a first world country on websites (as well as through seminars by nz representatives in foreign countries to attract students) and withholding stats about racism (including your case) and crime is a serious issue that en zed has to answer sooner or later to the outside world.

    • Is true that no stats on racism are kept in New Zealand, neither does the police service collect stats on racially motivated crime. Makes it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist if its not measured, plus measuring it means that they’d have to deal with it. Falls into the “too hard” category and bad for the country’s image abroad.

  5. I am genuinely so sorry for your awful experience, I have heard from seasoned travellers that the worst airport immigration is US then Australia and now UK. Sadly, much of the border process is profiling and certain nationalities do ring alarm bells, As I recall a group of Romanians recently entered NZ and ran a scamming ring and stole quite a lot, So you were probably just feeling the brunt of that. My friend from South Africa visited a church in Nigeria and also holidayed every year in Thailand and he was held at Auckland customs for 2 to 3 hours each time he entered as those 2 countries are on the drug running route especially when both have been visisted, He eventually got residency and has settled well but he just knew each time he was in for a grilling. I am very surprised that with funds and acceptance letters and no criminal flagging you were denied entry and can’t figure out on what basis you would be denied, Again, so sorry to hear this and hope your next stage is much more pleasant, All the best,,,,

  6. being judged, humiliated, or rude treatment is part of the nz experience. but you should be grateful that only happened to you for such a small duration. I was interrogated when I tried to deposit money to open a savings bank account and denied by the staff as if I was devil. I was not offered employment opportunities easily, and I was short changed here and there unfairly or facing uninvited rudeness, targeted until you are emotionally damaged and vilified.

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