Tongan nationals troubled over passport shortage as NZ security tightened

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Copy of Tongan Certificate of Identity. Photo/Kaniva Tonga News

Hundreds of Tongans who need new passports to enter New Zealand have faced difficulties, with many visa applications being declined after the country rejected Tonga’s Certificate of Identity on its own.

Immigration New Zealand will not accept the Certificates of Identity (COIs) without the holders being able to provide other forms of identification.

New Zealand requires either a New Zealand driver’s license or an expired Tongan passport as supporting identity documents.

Groups such as Recognised Seasonal Employee visa applicants who had planned to travel to New Zealand will need to get supporting letters from the RSE office in Tonga.

Some of those who had complained to Kaniva News said they did not hold New Zealand drivers’ licenses or expired Tongan passports since this was the first time they had applied for Tongan passports.

One complainant said she was surprised after she was issued with a COI in Tonga but then allegedly told at the immigration office she could not use it to apply for a visa to New Zealand.

The trouble came after the kingdom announced in August it had run out of passports.

The sudden shortage was attributed to high local demand and from Tongans living overseas, the government said.

While waiting for the new stock, which was expected to arrive next month, the Tongan government issued the COI to those who had applied for a new passport or whose passports had expired.

“Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is very aware of the current low stock of Tongan passports”, an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson said.

“INZ has some concerns about the security features of the current Certificate of Identity (COI) being issued by the Tongan government until the new stock of passports arrives.

“Although Tongan nationals can lodge a visa application with a COI, a further form of identification is required before a visa can be issued.

“The most preferred form of identity alongside the COI is an expired Tongan passport. However, INZ may also accept other forms of verifiable evidence of identity such as a New Zealand driver’s licence, or in the case of an RSE application, certification/facilitation documents from RSE officials in Tonga.

“Signs about the issue are prominently displayed at INZ’s Nuku’alofa office and there has been extensive advertising in local media.”

The main points

  • Hundreds of Tongans who need new passports to enter New Zealand have faced difficulties, with many visa applications being declined after the country rejected Tonga’s Certificate of Identity on its own.
  • The trouble came after the kingdom announced in August it had run out of passports.
  • The sudden shortage was attributed to high local demand and from Tongans living overseas, the government said.
  • While waiting for more passports, the Tongan government issued the Certificate of Identity to those who had applied for a new passport or whose passports had expired.

For more information

Tonga out of passports until October

NZ, Australia, working on passport problem

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  1. ‘Oku ‘i ai ‘a e faingata’a ‘oku tofanga ai ‘a kinautlu ko ia kuo nau fiema’u paasipooti ke hū atu’aki ki Nu’u Sila, he lahi e ngaahi kole visa kuo ‘ikai tali hili ia hano fakata’e’aonga’i ‘e he fonua ia ‘a e Setifikeiti ‘Aitenititī ‘a Tonga ‘o ka ngāue’aki pe ia ‘ikai ha toe ‘aitī ‘e taha ke ne poupou’i.

    Ko e faingata’a ni ne hoko mai hili ia hano fanongonongo ‘e he pule’anga fakatu’i ‘i ‘Aokosi kuo ‘osi ‘a e paasipooti ia.

    Ko e ‘osi fakafokifā ko ‘eni ne taku ia ki he lahi ‘o e fiema’u fakalotofonua pea mo e kakai Tonga ‘i muli, ko e fakahā ia mei he pule’anga.

    Lolotonga e tatali ko ‘eni ki he sitoka fo’ou ‘a ia ‘oku ai e ‘amanaki ‘e tau mai he māhina katu’u, kuo foaki ‘e he pule’anga Tonga ‘a e Setifikeiti ‘Aitenititii (SA) kia kinautolu kuo nau ‘apalai ki he paasipooti fo’ou pe kuo ‘osi e ‘aonga ‘enau paasipooti.

    Neongo ia ‘oku ‘ikai tali ‘e he ‘Imikuleisi Nu’u Sila ia ‘a e SA ta’e ‘i ai ha toe fa’ahinga fakamo’oni ‘aitenititī ‘e taha ke ne poupou’i.

    ‘Oku fiema’u ‘e Nu’u Sila ia ha laiseni faka’uli Nu’u Sila pe ha paasipooti Tonga kuo ‘osi hono ‘aonga ke hoko ia ko ha ‘aitī poupou.

    Ko e ngaahi kulupu hangē ko e kau Ngāue Fakato’ukai ‘oku nau kole visa ke folau ki Nu’u Sila ‘e fiema’u ha tohi mei he ‘ōfisi ‘o e kautaha ‘i Tonga.

    ‘Oku pehē ‘e he taha e kau lāunga ki he Kaniva he ‘isiu ko ‘eni ne foaki ‘ene SA ‘i he ‘ōfisi ‘i Tonga pea toe tala ange ‘e ‘ikai lava ia ke kole’aki ha’ane visa ki Nu’u Sila.

    Ne fakahā mei ha matāpule mei he ‘Imikuleisini Nu’u Sila ‘oku nau ‘osi ‘ilo ki he nounou ko ‘eni ‘a e paasipooti ‘a Tonga.

    Na’a ne pehē ‘oku nau hoha’a ki he nāunau kuo fa’u ke malu’i’aki pea ke hoko ‘o falala’anga ai ‘a e SA pea ko e ‘uhinga ia ‘enau toe fiema’u ha fa’ahinga ‘aitī kehe ke ua ‘aki.