Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

30 plus overstayers sent home

More than 30 illegal overstayers were detained and deported from Hawke's Bay in the past year, with some staying nearly 10 years illegally.

Between June 2011 and this June, they were forced to leave the country after being found living illegally in Hawke's Bay, figures obtained from the Department of Labour under the Official Information Act showed.

That figure was for people detained at local police stations and the Hawke's Bay Prison.

The longest overstayer was an Indian national who was deported in December 2011 after 3464 unlawful days, nearly 10 years, in New Zealand. Others had stayed unlawfully for up to eight years, seven years and four years.

Last week, a 32-year-old Chinese national, Lei Nie, was arrested in Hastings after he led police and Immigration New Zealand on a seven-year manhunt.

He was living in the region under the fake name Andrew Nie, an identity he assumed after overstaying a student visa.

Inquiries revealed he had been living in Hawke's Bay for some time, working for several horticulture and viticultural contracting companies.

The investigation into his activities resulted from what an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson described as anonymous information they received from a contractor, and other workers.

None of the other people Nie had associated, or lived with, were taken into custody.

Nie's case joins those of four other Chinese nationals. The nationality with the highest number of overstayers was Malaysia with 11 people here illegally, followed by five overstayers from India.

Immigration New Zealand intelligence, risk and integrity general manager Peter Elms said those numbers could be even higher. "The figures provided to you are not estimated but show the number of individuals held in detention in Hawke's Bay for the last year," he said.

"Some overstayers may have been deported without being detained in custody, and others will have voluntarily departed at their own cost after intervention by compliance officers."

He said those taking the risk put themselves in a vulnerable situation.

"Overstayers put themselves in a dangerous position and are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, and often have to operate on the margins of society," Mr Elms said.

On average it cost $2400 per deportation.

"Immigration New Zealand becomes aware of overstayers through a number of ways; information from members of the public, routine business as usual compliance checks and information from the New Zealand Police," he said.

"INZ records all arrivals and departures from New Zealand and we automatically know when someone has not departed before their visa has expired.

"We contact overstayers through texting, email and letter and where they fail to depart compliance staff undertake enquiries to locate and deport."

Since July 2000, the numbers of people caught staying in New Zealand illegally were declining, Mr Elms said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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