Father's residence hopes for son ruined

By Hyunsook Siutaia 28 December 2020, 11:00AM

A man who wanted to get his son New Zealand residence, had to be abandoned halfway through the process, after it was discovered the Samoan boy was not his biological child.

The plight of the family was revealed in a decision from the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal, which was released online this month.

According to Stuff, the man, who is not identified in the decision, went to the tribunal after Immigration New Zealand declined his son’s application for residence.

The tribunal heard the man has lived in New Zealand since 2009 but makes regular visits to Samoa to visit his partner and their children.

It is during one of those visits that the boy, now 9 years of age, was said to have been conceived, reports Stuff

He lived in Samoa with his mother and siblings until 2019, when his father flew him and two of his sisters – now 8 and 10 years of age – to New Zealand to live. Three younger siblings remain in Samoa with their mother.

But Immigration NZ raised concerns when the man submitted his son’s birth certificate, on which he was named as the father, as part of his residence application.

According to travel records, the Stuff reported that the man was not in Samoa at the time the boy would have been conceived. When an immigration officer raised that with the boy’s mother, she said her son had been born prematurely, at seven months' gestation.

However, Immigration NZ records showed the man was not in Samoa seven months before the boy was born either, according to Stuff

The boy also could not have been conceived in New Zealand as his mother has only visited once, in 2006.

When asked by Immigration NZ, the man said he had never questioned the time period between his son’s alleged conception and birth.

“The child's mother had told him that he was the biological father and he had even named his son after himself,” the tribunal heard, reports Stuff.

“He said he loved his son and was scared that the child’s mother may have cheated on him. He was afraid to do DNA testing in case it established that he was not his son’s father.”

Immigration NZ declined the boy’s application for residence as it could not be proved he is his father's biological son. 

However, the man said despite the development, he “has always considered himself to be the appellant’s father”.

He wants to give all three children a “good, happy and safe upbringing” in New Zealand, and their mother has agreed to him having full custody, the tribunal heard. 

The children were not well-fed in Samoa and “kids were simply left to look after other kids”.

The Stuff reported that the Tribunal member Annabelle Clayton said it “may not simply be a question of the father and the mother agreeing” on where the boy should live. He may have other family – such as his real biological father – who should get a say.

The boy’s parentage and care arrangements will need to be decided through the Family Court or Oranga Tamariki, she said.

She ordered the boy be granted a student visa so he can remain in New Zealand while his paternity is resolved.

By Hyunsook Siutaia 28 December 2020, 11:00AM

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