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While Jacinda Ardern was in Australia discussing the controversial 501 deportation policy, Immigration New Zealand was serving deportation papers on a former inmate who left Samoa as a preschooler.
It’s a contrast the man is calling deeply hypocritical, especially given how outspoken the Government has been of the 501 policy – going as far as labelling it “corrosive”.
“I’d rather go back to jail than Samoa, I know what it’s like, I know what’s expected of me in there, I know how to behave and how to live,” Mose Vaipapa told Open Justice.
“I’m not a saint. But I’ve paid for that.”
On Friday last week Vaipapa was served with deportation papers to return to his home country; a place he hasn’t lived since he was 4 years old, doesn’t speak the language and has no family or other connections.
The now 29-year-old served 15 years in jail for two serious rapes he committed when he was 14 years old. At least one of his victims was a teenager, both females were unknown to him and the rapes happened on separate occasions.
While in prison he was involved in a riot that closed Hawke’s Bay Prison’s Youth Unit for more than 11 months, and seriously assaulted two guards, one of whom ended up in hospital.
Those offences added to his sentence which he served in full, without parole.
Despite those crimes Mike Sceats and the staff from the Porirua Community Law Centre are working to keep Vaipapa in the country. They have appealed to the Minister of Immigration on his behalf, claiming New Zealand has a responsibility to look after him.
“We institutionalised him. We made him. It seems wrong to now just foist him off onto Samoa,” Sceats said.
Sceats said Vaipapa fell through the cracks at primary school because the teachers thought he was stupid.
By the time they figured out he had glue ear and could barely hear them, he’d missed so much school he never caught up.
After that he began getting into trouble and went through a number of boys’ homes in Porirua between 2004 and 2009 before being sent to the now infamous Epuni Boys’ Home in Lower Hutt.
There Vaipapa says was sexually assaulted at the age of 12.
“He’s been labelled as stupid, dangerous and violent. He’s been set up to fail all his life,” Sceats said.
“My personal view is that technically he wasn’t born here but he was made and broken here.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has long been critical of the Australian 501 deportation policy where New Zealanders are deported from Australia and sent back home.
Any non-citizen who has been sentenced to more than a year in prison in Australia can be deported under the 501 policy, even if they’ve already served their time years earlier.
So far more than 2000 ex-Kiwis have been deported since the policy was introduced in 2014. The deportees are named after section 501 of the Australian Migration Act which allows their visas to be cancelled.
On Friday last week Ardern met with Australia’s new leader Anthony Albanese to push for changes to the law. Albanese said after the meeting that the 501 policy would stay, although he promised to “work through” implementation issues with New Zealand.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman, Andrew Campbell, told Open Justice that the New Zealand Government has never opposed Australia’s right to have a deportation policy.
“However there are significant differences between the breadth of Australia’s deportation policy relating to 501s and New Zealand’s,” he said.
Senior lecturer in politics and international relations Dr Timothy Fadgen of Auckland University told Open Justice that to say New Zealand is engaging in a completely different practice is inaccurate.
“It’s a difference without a distinction.
“New Zealand has a track record of a high number of deportees to the Pacific and beyond and this has been going on for many years, and it creates the same sorts of problems in those communities that the Australian policy is creating here.”
Open Justice reported earlier this year that New Zealand sent 400 criminals back to Pacific nations between 2013-2018 – a move that a newly released report said was contributing to a growing crime and drug addiction in those countries.
At present Vaipapa is under strict supervision and electronically-monitored bail while he waits to see whether the Minister for Immigration accepts his plea to remain in New Zealand.
The minister has discretion over whether to intervene in immigration matters like this, however, in May Associate Minister of Immigration Phil Twyford declined the request.
Vaipapa came to New Zealand with his mother and siblings when he was 4, piggybacking on her passport.
He committed his first imprisonable offences while she was in the process of sorting out residency for her family and it was recommended that her son be removed from the application for the rest of the family to be successful.
When Open Justice met with Vaipapa at his address in Trentham this week he said he was extremely sorry for what he’d done.
“I don’t remember one of them … but when I was told what I’d done … I just … It’s really messed up.”
“I wish I could go back and punch myself, shake that young Mose and ask him what the hell he’s doing?”
Vaipapa said years later while in prison he’d been denied leave to go to his stepfather’s funeral, and then one of the prison guards called him a “porch monkey”.
He beat the guard so badly he ended up in hospital.
“When I read the victim impact statement from his daughter … It just grabbed me by the heart. There was no excuse for what I did.”
Vaipapa said when he was first served the deportation notice in prison when he was 17, he didn’t understand what it meant.
“I was still just a kid. The only thing that sunk in was that if I ever got parole then I’d be straight on a plane.
“I don’t even remember being in Samoa. I thought I was a New Zealander for half my life.”
Vaipapa said he wouldn’t know what to do if he was deported as there was nothing for him in Samoa.
“It would be real hard for me. I don’t speak Samoan. I don’t know anyone. I don’t even know where I’m gonna stay. All I know is New Zealand.”
Post source: Nzherald