First, former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was given permission to bring his one-man show to Auckland. Special permission was needed because our immigration requirements disbar anyone who has been sentenced to five years or more in prison and Mr Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison in the US in 1992 for rape.
Next, Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson revoked the visa when the Life Education Trust - which would have benefited from his appearance - did not back his visit.
A fresh visa application was lodged and a political tug-of-war began. The Manukau Urban Maori Authority is among groups willing to sponsor the visit, portraying Mr Tyson as a role model for troubled youth because he has "turned his life around". Others oppose his entry, including the Stop Demand (an organisation committed to stopping sexual violence) and Family First NZ. Stop Demand denounces the show as “misogynist”, whereas Mr Tyson's promoter, Max Markson, maintains the former boxer's visit would benefit the community, would raise money for charity and might inspire some young people to change their lives for the better. Ms Wilkinson said the original decision to let Mr Tyson enter the country had been “a finely balanced call”. The balance has shifted against him.
Finding the tipping point should be easier in the case of the Afghans who have served as interpreters for New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan and want to come here when our troops withdraw next year. Five of them put their case to Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman in April: they fear being executed if captured by the Taleban because they have been supporting foreign troops. The Taleban have just shot and critically injured a 14-year-old girl for speaking up about their atrocities and championing girls' education.
Six months after the request was made, Mr Coleman says his officials are “looking into it closely”. He also awaits guidance from Americans, Australians and others, although why we can't do the right thing without guidance is bewildering. The outlook for the interpreters is dark because they helped our troops. We have a simple moral duty to help them in return.
- © Fairfax NZ News