Auckland's Chinese community have been reassured over the wellbeing of little Qian Xun Xue amid a media frenzy over her mother's murder and the US manhunt for her father.
Around 30 community leaders met Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove yesterday afternoon at a community hall in Onehunga, seeking assurances over the support that will be provided to the 3-year-old and her extended family.
"The community is very happy with the way the Government is handling the issue," said lawyer Raymond Huo, "especially when Clayton Cosgrove assured the community that the Government would make sure there was no impediment for her and her extended family coming to Auckland."
Qian Xun's grandmother Xiao Ping Liu is due in Auckland tomorrow with an assistant and an interpreter. Mr Cosgrove told those gathered that the normal visa requirements such as police clearance certificates and health certificates had been waived, as had visa application fees.
Those gathered also conveyed to Mr Cosgrove the family's request for privacy and respect for Qian Xun's mother. Mr Huo said he had been contacted by at least five community groups to arrange a meeting with the Government as concern grew over the wellbeing of the little girl, amid the media scrutiny of the case.
"The community felt it needed to engage in a direct dialogue with the Government," said Mr Huo.
He said internet postings had questioned the moral side of An An Liu's life.
A date for An An's funeral has yet to be fixed, but the Herald understands the body will be cremated, with a simple ceremony to mark her passing.
A spokeswoman for Mr Cosgrove said Liu Xiao Ping had been granted a six-month visitor visa to travel to New Zealand to meet her granddaughter.
She said the Immigration Service had also waived a requirement for Qian Xun to have a passport to travel back to New Zealand from Melbourne, where her father abandoned her.
The spokeswoman said a bilingual immigration case officer would be made available to provide advice to them.
National MP Pansy Wong has sent an open letter to Chinese news organisation throughout the United States to add to appeals for help in tracking down Qian Xun's father, Nai Yin Xue.
Mrs Wong said she was using her position to try to reach out to the American Chinese community to emphasise Qian Xun's plight and the need for her father to be brought to justice.
She was also trying to appeal directly to Xue "to give himself up and live by what he preached" as a practitioner of what were supposed to be very disciplined and principled martial arts.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Helen Clark has entered the debate over the police handling of the Xue case, but is reserving judgment until she has heard their side of the story.
She said there were two sides to the debate on whether police had left it too long to check the boot of the car in which the body of An An was found.
One school of thought was that police should have checked it straight away, another was that there was a need to be very careful about procedure so any subsequent prosecution was not prejudiced.
"Overall, I'm going to judge the police performance on whether there can be a successful prosecution of a person for murder.
"Because what we have is a terrible tragedy with a young child left without a mother, a family left without a daughter. It's a horrific crime," the Prime Minister said.
"Now obviously there are some issues for the police around why it took so long to actually investigate the car and whether it should have been considered as part of the crime scene from the beginning.
"Probably everybody who looks at the story has a view about it but I would like to hear [the police] side of it first.
"Prima facie, as an ordinary member of the public you'd be inclined to say that the car would have been of interest. But I think we need to hear what the police thinking is."
Helen Clark said there were also two sides to the debate about whether the New Zealand police should have told their American counterparts to look for Xue earlier.
"Again, in the wash-up of this we need to see whether there are lessons which can be learned by the Kiwi police."
An inquiry into the police handling of the case would be a decision for the Minister of Police, Annette King.
additional reporting: Mathew Dearnaley