'Spectre of deportation' looms over wedding after family of Vietnamese bride barred from NZ video


Seamus Roberston and his Vietnamese wife-to-be Pham Thu Thuong Nguyen are disappointed they'll be getting married without Thuong's family there.

A Vietnamese woman will walk down the aisle alone after her family were declined visitor visas to New Zealand in a move labelled "nasty and vindictive" by her husband-to-be.

Pham​ Thu Thuong​ Nguyen, known as Thuong, and her fiance, Kirk Robertson, known as Seamus, are getting married on Saturday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oxford, North Canterbury.

But her mother, two sisters, brother-in-law and niece will not be able to make the ceremony after Immigration New Zealand (INZ) declined their visa applications on the grounds they had limited incentives to return to Vietnam.

A photo album from the Thuong and Seamus' engagement party in Vietnam.

A photo album from the Thuong and Seamus' engagement party in Vietnam.

"She was distraught after hearing her family wouldn't be coming," Robertson said, speaking from his family home where he and Thuong have been living since December. 

'Penalised for doing the right thing' – man cries foul over fiancee's visa rejection
Immigration NZ to boot out top pianist, pregnant and alone
Couple leave New Zealand after former associate minister refuses to intervene

"It's the only day in her life she's ever going to get married and because of some bureaucratic glitch they are disallowing her the opportunity to have her family here for her wedding. That is cruel and vindictive."

Angus Robertson says he feels "wild" after INZ declined visitor visas for his future daughter-in-law's family.

Angus Robertson says he feels "wild" after INZ declined visitor visas for his future daughter-in-law's family.

The couple have had their issues with INZ. In September, the department gave Thuong 42 days to leave the country after declining her application for a year-long Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa.

The visa was declined by INZ because it was not satisfied Robertson and Thuong were living together in a genuine and stable relationship, despite more than 100 pages of submissions in support from friends and family.

The couple started a relationship in 2016 and had been living together since December after Robertson moved back from Australia to look after his terminally ill father and the family business after the death of his mother.


Because they were staying with his 77-year-old father, Angus Robertson, Seamus Robertson said they had no rental agreement or utilities bills to help prove they lived together.

Ad Feedback

"The irony is 100 years ago [this week] my grandfather stood on the fields of Passchendaele and fought for New Zealand's freedom, and now some immigration official is saying his grandson is not trustworthy," he said.

Robertson was convinced INZ had declined visas for Thuong's family because of her own visa situation.


Seamus Robertson is in a battle with Immigration New Zealand after his Vietnamese partner, Pham Thu Thuong Nguyen, was denied a working visa.

"It's meant to be the happiest day of our lives and they're making sure that the spectre of deportation looms over her head."

INZ area manager Sarah Clifford said while Thuong's immigration status was considered during the assessment of her family's visa applications, it did not play a significant factor.

Their visas were declined on "bona-fide grounds due to limited incentives to return home", she said.

A photo of Seamus Robertson's grandfather, Angus McIver, who fought in the World War I battle of Passchendaele.

A photo of Seamus Robertson's grandfather, Angus McIver, who fought in the World War I battle of Passchendaele.

"All five live in a high-risk area of Vietnam, have no previous travel history to any countries, declared low employment or self-employment in Vietnam and limited evidence of personal funds or savings."

Angus Robertson said the decision was insulting.

He personally sponsored each of Thuong's relatives' visa applications, which included a guarantee he would cover any enforcement costs should they not meet their visa requirements.

Pham​ Thu Thuong​ Nguyen and fiance Kirk 'Seamus' Robertson are getting married on Saturday in Oxford, Canterbury.

Pham​ Thu Thuong​ Nguyen and fiance Kirk 'Seamus' Robertson are getting married on Saturday in Oxford, Canterbury.

"What they're saying is they want me to be responsible, then they turn around and say 'we won't let these people in because we think they're gong to stay and work, which means you Mr Robertson are crap'," he said.

"They won't bloody stay, they want to come for the wedding then go home."

The 77-year-old had also offered to pay for all their costs during the trip to New Zealand, a repayment of sorts after the engagement party Thuong's family had put on in Vietnam in April.

"I'm a taxpayer, I pay my taxes, they're public servants who are supposed to do their job properly and they haven't done it. So that just made me wild," he said.

Seamus Robertson and Thuong had applied for ministerial intervention in her case, and the couple were also appealing the decision through the Ombudsman.

Clifford said the ministerial intervention request would be considered by a senior INZ official.

"INZ can confirm that no compliance action will take place until the request has been decided," she said.

 - The Press

Ad Feedback
special offers

School water woes continue

Signs warning children not to drink water at Te Huruhi Primary School.

Two Waiheke Island schools have had no water in drinking fountains for months after an E.coli scare.

Winning films slam meth

Winning young filmmaker Eli Cantwell with Auckland police inspector Ben Offner.

The winners of the Meth Free Waiheke Film Competition have been announced.

Government mirrors Waiheke vote

Former Green MP Denise Roche says the new government will be "good for Waiheke".

Many Waiheke and Great Barrier Island residents are celebrating a surprising new government that reflects their votes.

Time to support our great game

New Zealand Kiwis coach David Kidwell knows sameness won't win this Rugby League World Cup and is developing a game-plan ...

OPINION: Graham Lowe and I have one message to fans of our game - get out and support the Rugby League World Cup.


H&M offers European style

H&M Queensgate will open Thursday October 26.

The Swedish retailer, opening Thursday, will offer Wellingtonians the same clothing they will find in London, Paris and New York.

Call to get tough 

There are calls for cellphone driving ban penalties to be reviewed as New Zealand's road toll continues to climb. (File ...

Penalty for breaking cell phone driving ban "should be doubled", Wellington City Council official says.

I'm alright jack - not

A drop in membership has threatened the future of the Newtown Workingmen's Bowling Club, which could mean the end of a ...

 OPINION: A move to end the lease of the Newtown Workingmen's Bowling Club may rob the area of a valuable community asset.

From Wellington to Tokyo

Coffee Supreme creative director Doug Johns, left, and chief executive Richard Shirtcliffe.

Coffee Supreme serve Wellington brew to locals and tourists in Japan's capital.


Bacon lovers delight video

Troy Bilbrough started Bacon Bros five years ago. The company's eatery at Little High has been cranking out burgers ...

Bacon Bros grills upwards of 250 kilograms of bacon every week at its central city eatery.

Shooting victim named

Police blocked a section of Marsden Rd after the shooting on Sunday afternoon.

Victim believed to be a mother of three sons who "did the best for her kids".

A mother's anguish

One of the last photos taken of Christchurch man Jonny before he died by suspected suicide in June.

"You feel that you could die from the sorrow," says mother of a suspected suicide victim.

'Nothing' helping stop suicides

Carl and Margaret visit their son Jonny's grave after he died by suspected suicide in June.

Canterbury police are called to 10 attempted suicides a day. No-one knows how to bring the number down.


Weather catches driver out

A driver took a slide in wet conditions at Palmers Garden Centre on SH2 Bethlehem.

Wet road proves hazardous for driver who plunged into bush.

Murray saga drags

Former Waikato DHB chief executive Nigel Murray resigned part way through an investigation into his expense claims (file ...

Waikato DHB could bill those wanting clarity around former chief executive's spending.

Cash to quit smoking

Pregnant smokers can earn up to $300 by quitting the cigarettes through a Pinnacle Midlands Health Network programme ...

 Cash vouchers are up for grabs for pregnant smokers in a King Country town if they lay off the cigarettes.

Rescue at Huka Falls

Police, fire and paramedics are in attendance at the popular waterfall.

A kayaker had to be rescued near the Huka Falls rapids.


360 views: Gardening in heaven

290917 News Photo. SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF
Bindu and Kam Sharma at their Himalayan Garden of Tranquility in Whalers Gate in ...

Step inside, wander around, enjoy the interactive tours...

Life after tragedy

Active Skin specialist Yvette Wyeth at her clinic at Balgowlah, Stocklands, Northern Beaches

Just five weeks old when his dad died, photos have helped keep a young boy stay close to both his parents.

Whānau key at festival

Sylvia Patu with baby Ohorere Te Manawanui Ngarongo Moka from Ngati Maru.

Family and a chance to test one's sporting abilities at popular Taranaki festival

Danger on the roads

A car was left extensively damaged after it rolled multiple times near Mt Messenger.

A spate of crashes keep crews busy this Labour Weekend.


Market brings cultures together

From left, Mohammad Tamim, 12, Tammam Tamim, Mohammad Tamim and Nadia Tamim sell Palestinian and Syrian delicacies at ...

The Lions Club's Market Day in The Square was a chance to be immersed in different cultures.

Gorge needs rethink

The Manawatū Gorge is unlikely to reopen any time soon as the hillside is too unstable.

Calls for the Manawatū Gorge to open to one lane while a new route is formed.

Hartley hopes for second race video

Brendon Hartley (right) rubs shoulders with Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the US Grand Prix.

Kiwi puts in a creditable first drive as Lewis Hamilton takes the chequered flag.

Desperation spurred Wallabies win

Ryan Crotty loses the ball in contact against the Wallabies on Saturday night.

OPINION: It is never good watching the All Blacks lose, but world rugby needed that Wallabies win.


Fighting back after cancer

Tyson Fitzpatrick oversees Thomas Ngaruhe strength and condition training.

After cancer treatment left him weak and exhausted, Thomas Ngaruhe fought his way back to fitness thanks to an innovative training programme.

State homes lay empty

A Housing New Zealand house in Norwich St, Stoke has been vacant for four years.

More than 50 people are waiting for homes in Nelson while 15 Housing homes remain vacant. 

Injured tramper airlifted

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter flew into Kahurangi National Park on Monday to pick up an injured tramper.

A tramper has been lifted from Kahurangi National Park after hurting his leg.

Makos headed for final

Tasman Makos captain Alex Ainley is welcomed home by his daughters Emilia, left, and Kaiye at Nelson Airport after the ...

The Tasman Makos are now preparing to take on Canterbury in Saturday's premiership rugby final.


Deck fall mistaken for army exercise

The railing of The Portage Hotel deck has been replaced, but still had orange caution tape wrapped around it on Sunday.

People at resort thought the blood was fake and the men were part of a military exercise.

Man stabbed

Police at the scene of a stabbing on Lane St, Blenheim.

A 26-year-old, known to the victim, has been arrested.

Under/Stand the sculpture

Steel sculpture 'Under/Standing' has been unveiled at Brancott Estate, near Renwick.

A geometric marvel, from the man who designed an island, just popped up in the middle of sauvignon blanc country.

What now for Marlborough?

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announces a NZ First-Labour coalition government.

Major players speculate on how the new Government will affect big business, education and local government.

South Canterbury

Timaru micro-brewery progressing

The Ship Hop Brewing team (from left) Nic Mecchia, Hadley Rich, Brad Reid and Niv Cotterell are looking forward to ...

Beer will soon be flowing, in sample sizes, at a new Timaru micro-brewery.

Life after cancer video

Liam Crutcher, 5, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a cancerous tumour on his liver, when he was nine months old.  He ...

Liam Crutcher loves to show people the scar on his stomach left after surgery.

Festival to feature new night market

Netcon's Bruce Miller and festival director Chris Thomas prepare to put up the Festival of Roses flags up on the Bay ...

A night market will feature at this year's Festival of Roses.

Keeping an eye on vision

Jo Gregan is urging people to keep an eye on their vision.

A Timaru woman is urging people not to take their sight for granted.


Otago scientists research Lake Wanaka parasites

Otago University zoology PhD student Brandon Ruehle with a bully he is going to investigate for the parasite tylodelphys.

Tylodelphys larvae burst out of their host snails like the Alien and go on to blind fish.

Southern Utd to build on first-up draw

Southern United coach Paul O'Reilly.

Southern United will be looking to build on their first round hard fought draw against Auckland City in the national football league.

Drunk teen's crash shocks

All four occupants of the car that crashed in Central Otago were intoxicated.

Intoxicated parent a passenger when drunk, unlicensed 15-year-old crashed car.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.


Location scout's extraordinary life video

Dave Comer was considered New Zealand's first professional film location scout.

From Barry Crump commercials to Peter Jackson blockbusters, Dave Comer connected NZ's landscapes with its people.

Ex-convict fears 'war on me'

Rex Haig, of Dunedin, is hoping to lodge a compensation claim with the Government.

Rex Haig's murder conviction was quashed, but his fight for justice is far from over.

Garage fire being investigated

A garage on a Conon St, Invercargill, property was gutted by fire on Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigators have been requested following a garage fire in Invercargill.

Climbers rescued after freezing night

Chris Prudden​, leader of Wakatipu LandSAR's alpine cliff rescue team.

So-called shortcut leads to 10-hour overnight stay in freezing conditions for two Aussie climbers.

Ad Feedback