Radio New Zealand
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has granted far-right activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux visas to visit New Zealand for public speaking events.
The specific purpose work visa enables them to spend 10 days in New Zealand.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has banned the right-wing pair from speaking at council venues, a decision being challenged in court by the Free Speech Coalition.
Views not condoned
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said that the decision of INZ in no way condoned the views expressed by the pair.
He said that the views were “repugnant to this government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders.”
“I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand,” Mr Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
“However, the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised that the pair meet.
“The ground on which someone can be excluded from New Zealand, involves things like being involved in a terrorist organisation, being convicted of a crime or clearly having been involved in incited violence – none of those applied to these two people.
He said legally the decision was straightforward.
“INZ looked at that very carefully, very thoroughly, took their time to make the decision but I think it was a reasonably clear-cut decision.”
Confusion over UK ban
Mr Lees-Galloway said neither speaker had been banned from the United Kingdom and said there had been some confusion around this.
“To be honest, I am not exactly sure what happened with the UK, but INZ looked at the circumstances and there was nothing that impacted their ability to enter New Zealand.”
Ms Southern was previously sent a letter by INZ saying that her ban in the UK would affect her ability to travel to and enter New Zealand, under section 15 of the Immigration Act.
“INZ had a misunderstanding about exactly what the situation was at that point,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
The Department later sent Ms Southern an updated letter advising that her ban would not affect her ability.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux Photo: Supplied to RNZ /YouTube screen shot