Kiribati climate change refugee told he must leave New Zealand

Climate Change and rising sea levels at threatening the Kiribati Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Climate Change and rising sea levels at threatening the Kiribati Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

A man seeking to be the world's first climate change refugee has been booked on a flight home to Kiribati on Wednesday, despite his lawyer saying that is a breach of justice.

Ioane Teitiota has been in custody in Mt Eden Prison after his bid to claim climate change refugee status was dismissed last week. 

He was arrested by police and immigration officials at his West Auckland home on Tuesday morning for overstaying his permit.

He has been ordered to remain in custody until his flight or for a further seven days in case of complications. At the Waitakere District court on Monday, Judge Stan Thorburn said there was no dispute that Teitiota was in New Zealand illegally and only came to be noticed on an unrelated police matter.

"Today it appears he has pursued all avenues open to him through the judicial and tribunal process and has failed."

Climate 'refugee' loses appeal
* 'Hypocritical policies' put climate change refugee hopefuls at risk

The judge said the district court was not a forum where the complex matters of the case could be addressed, he could only grant an order to release Teitiota from custody. "It seems to me that the intent must be at large that if there was no warrant of commitment and he was released on conditions, he would evade deportation on the 23rd of September."

Teitiota's family, from Kiribati, have fought numerous legal battles to stay in New Zealand as climate change refugees rather than return to the island nation, which is threatened by rising sea levels.

Immigration New Zealand said there was no point releasing Teitiota so close to his deportation date as there was a risk he would go to ground and avoid the Wednesday afternoon flight which had been booked for him.

Immigration New Zealand has also booked Teitiota's family on the same flight if they were to co-operate, which it said hadn't happened yet.

Ad Feedback

Teitiota's lawyer Michael Kidd said he supported the Government's recent decision to welcome more Syrian refugees but it was ignoring those left stranded in our own backyard. 

He said any appeals to the United Nations and appeals to MP Phil Twyford's office would stop with a deportation as he would not have access to his client.

Kidd also delivered a petition to Judge Thorburn from the Kiribati community, though the judge said he was not sure it would be appropriate to receive that as his powers as a district court judge were limited. 

Teitiota and his family are desperate to stay in New Zealand, saying they don't want to return to their polluted and potentially dangerous home country.

He was denied bail on Thursday and was therefore able to be held in custody for up to 96 hours.  

Teitiota's latest effort to persuade New Zealand's highest court fell flat in July, when the Supreme Court said Teitiota and his family did not qualify as refugees.

"In relation to the Refugee Convention, while Kiribati undoubtedly faces challenges, Mr Teitiota does not, if returned, face 'serious harm' and there is no evidence that the Government of Kiribati is failing to take steps to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation to the extent that it can," the court's decision said.

Kidd said Teitiota and his family feared returning to the Pacific Island nation, which was threatened by the effects of global warming.

He said there was still hope to pursue further avenues over the next two days.

Teitiota, his wife and their three New Zealand-born children were in the process of mounting their appeal when he was arrested.

Kidd said he believed the family had a strong case under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which New Zealand had voluntarily signed.

If Teitiota's children were forced to return to Kiribati "his children will doubtlessly fall ill" as they were not used to the water pollution and human waste contamination, Kidd said.

"New Zealand is returning him and his family to a situation where there is danger from a number of things such as rising sea levels and pollution of fresh water and the possibility of cyclones destroying the place."

Teitiota was also unlikely to be able to get a job in Kiribati and would have to rely on family, who were also struggling.

Teitiota and his wife came to New Zealand in 2007 and remained after their permits expired in October 2010.

Although their three children were born in New Zealand, none of them are entitled to New Zealand citizenship.

Outside court Kidd said the only thing that could stop deportation now would be a letter from the minister, which he would try for. He said the judge had summed up the matter well but he felt as though the courts were passing the buck on this case.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers

Poi dancing good for elderly

Poi, a traditional Maori dance, involves weights on the ends of cords being spun in circular patterns.

The Maori dance can help seniors improve their balance and memory, according to a new study.

Wakeboarder towed by seaplane

Brad Smeele, Brant Hales and Jesse Cassrels set new standards to raise awareness.

Wakeboarder Brad Smeele injured his spine three years ago. His friends are going to extremes to help raise awareness.

Auckland teacher shortage will get worse

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers are thinking about leaving the city, a new ...

More than two thirds of Auckland's new primary and intermediate teachers considering moving due to cost of living, survey reveals.

Digger flips, driver trapped

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after his digger flipped over in Flat Bush on Monday afternoon.

Emergency crews are working to free the driver after an incident in Auckland's Flat Bush.


Capital's cycle lanes a Kiwi-first

A proposed new contra-flow bike lane on Wellington's Cuba St will allow people to ride both ways along part of the ...

Proposed new lanes will allow Wellington's cyclists to ride against the flow of traffic.

Ticketed in free park

Shane Leach has been parking his motorhome in the free car park since November, but has been ticketed twice by Wilson ...

The tiny car park is a "hidden gem" in the capital. That didn't stop Wilson Parking.

Celebrations timed rugby team out

Masterton Red Star have received a valuable reminder about converting tries in a timely fashion.

With seconds to go, they scored a try. But their celebratory high-fives came too soon - and went on too long.

Do we have hazard fatigue?

Civil Defence says it's important to follow a trusted source for official warnings.

Study finds widespread scepticism of official disaster warnings.


Huts still under water video

Questions have been raised about Lake Ellesmere not being opened ahead of floods that inundated Lower Selwyn Huts over ...

Why was Canterbury's Lake Ellesmere was not opened to the sea ahead of the weekend's flooding?

Anger at flooding

Southshore's estuary frontage at the weekend.

Southshore residents angry homes flooded in storm's tidal surge due to lack of protection.

Ballantynes gears up for new build

Ballantynes was one of the first central city retailers to reopen after the February 2011 earthquake.

Department store to reopen some departments in new premises while it rebuilds.

More snow on way

Snow at Tekapo

Heavy rain and snow are set to hit on Thursday when a new polar blast hits.


Gunpoint carjacking arrest

People were seen exiting a central Hamilton home with their hands up during the arrest on Monday afternoon.

Man arrested over the gunpoint carjacking of a Chevrolet Caprice in Hamilton.

Dairy owners fearful

The owner of the Holland Superette in Fairfield, Hamilton, was struck in the head with a hammer after refusing to hand ...

Terrified shopkeeps play robbery roulette and with odds stacked against them.

Chiefs up against history

Liam Messam and the Chiefs are up against history as they try to stay alive in Super Rugby.

No team has travelled from South Africa to New Zealand, then won a playoff match since 1998.

Millions in profit, nil tax

Chris Joblin, chief executive of Tainui Group Holdings.

A longstanding tax break has the usual suspects fired up, but Waikato-Tainui is happy to announce record breaking profits.


Faull family success

06042017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ.   Saturday big read,  Faull Farms at Tikorangi is one of Taranakis biggest ...

Gavin Faull is one of two Taranaki entries on the latest NBR Rich List.

A virtual remedy

Digital health deputy Janine Maruera photographs Makaiah Nui's tummy as she is held by cousin Tesha Whakatutu,  during ...

A combination of local gumption and modern technology is bringing health care to a town with no doctor.

'Moonshine' madness 

Drunk on home brew whisky or "moonshine" a South Taranaki man assaulted his partner and drove dangerously. (File Photo)

 A South Taranaki farmer was so drunk on moonshine he had little memory of assaulting his partner.

Something beginning with C

240717 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Central School in New Plymouth has had the 'C' stolen from its front entrance. ...

Be on the lookout for a missing C. It belongs to Entral School, formerly known as Central School.


Last supper for church video

Bishop's Warden Steve Fowler outside the church building.

Earthquake prone Levin church has been part of the community since the 1890s.

Another gorge slip

A new slip has fallen on the already-closed Manawatu Gorge road.

The closed Manawatu Gorge road is blocked by a third slip that came down this weekend.

Win for developer

Palmerston North courthouse.

Property developer wins case after High Court incorrectly interprets the law.

Flood-damaged paths repaired

Fresh erosion on the Mangaone Stream has exposed more stormwater pipes.

Paths have been left sodden, silted and damaged by floods.


Recyclable cups end up in landfill

Smart Environmental manager Yuri Schokking with recycled plastic at the Richmond Resource Recovery Centre.

Almost all our disposable coffee cups are going nowhere near the recycling plant.

Weekend crime spree

The door at the Milton Street Store in Nelson was replaced with a sheet of plywood after a ram-raid attack on the store ...

Another dairy raid caps a spate of crimes across Nelson on a busy weekend for police.

Cadets' voyage of discovery

The Nelson Sea Cadets with LTCOL Josh Wineera, New Zealand Defence Advisor to Fiji and LT Sam Wilson, Military Liaison ...

It was hardly smooth sailing, but Nelson's young sailors learned plenty about theimselves.

Pain relief battle

Yvonne Gill has been using opioid painkillers for 10 years to manage pain from a medical mishap.

 A Nelson woman is angry at doctors for stopping access to strong painkillers.


Guerrilla knitters yarn-bomb town

West End retailers Stephanie Thompson and Jacqui Harnett are behind Kaikoura's yarn-bombing project.

Many a good yarn has come out of quake-hit Kaikoura over the past few months, and that doesn't seem to be wrapping up anytime soon.

Teen denies knifepoint robbery

Dylan Joseph Dredge admitted seven charges at the Blenheim District Court. (File photo)

He wasn't trying to rob the woman, he was just attacking her with a knife, court hears.

First look at Kaikoura village video

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Accommodation Village.

Mark von Huben​ normally wears a tour guide's hat when he visits Kaikoura - now he's behind the wheel of a dump truck carting rubble away from slips blocking SH1.

$231m boost for SH1

A slip on State Highway 1 after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

New cycleway announced for 60km section of quake-hit highway north of Kaikoura.

South Canterbury

'Lake' consumes farm

Farmer Geoff Wallace on his Hook Swamp Rd property, which is still inundated with water.

Rapidly rising water in a flood-prone area meant a South Canterbury farmer ended up with a trailer load of dead calves.

$500k clean-up bill gallery video

Ashbury Mowers & Heating business in Washdyke had to get rid of chainsaws and line trimmers that had water damage. ...

Cleaning up the Timaru District aftermath storm will come with $500k price tag.

'Tough as teak' ex-AB dies

Tom Lister played eight tests as an All Black against, Australia, France, Wales, South Africa and the 1971 British and ...

South Canterbury's most-capped test All Black Tom Lister dies, aged 73.

Chainsawing through

Ricky Hunter had no way out of his Bouverie St property other than on foot, after a tree fell down onto the driveway ...

In a bid for freedom after the weekend's storm, Ricky Hunter picked up a chainsaw.


"The culinary world has just lost a gentleman"

Scott Richardson, pictured here in 2015, in his role as a catering and hospitality teacher at Southland Boys' High School.

Well-known Invercargill chef Scott Richardson died this morning in Dunedin Hospital.

'Business as usual'

Aparima College principal Kaye Day. The latest Governmental report on the College said "urgent" improvement in ...

A troubled Southland secondary school is to continue as usual, despite its leadership coming under fire.

Hotel facing potential delays

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey in front of the proposed site of the ILT's new multi-million ...

The Invercargill Licensing Trust has unearthed some speed bumps in its plans to build a new inner city hotel.

Defending champions on fire

Wensley's Fire cyclists from left to right, Nick Barclay, Marty Jillings, Ben Coley and Tai-Anne Blair set off in the ...

The fire service team has confirmed its the fastest emergency service in Invercargill.

Ad Feedback