Tetraplegic told to go

By Kathryn Powley

Lutimila Ma'afu, left, Semisi Ma'afu Samiu. Photo / Doug Sherring
Lutimila Ma'afu, left, Semisi Ma'afu Samiu. Photo / Doug Sherring

A tetraplegic man is being deported to what his family fears is a death sentence.

Semisi Ma'afu Samiu, 61, tripped over a child's plastic bike in Auckland in May 2006, crashing on to a concrete surface and injuring his spine, leaving him without the use of his limbs.

Now he is facing the prospect of police taking him away.

He has been declined New Zealand residency. In a letter dated December 3, Immigration New Zealand technical officer Terri Bentley informed Samiu's daughter and primary carer Laumanu Ma'afu there was no alternative but to deport him.

"I will then have to make arrangements with police and a medical escort to accompany him to Tonga," the letter said. "I am sure your father does not need this complication but I am being left with no other choice."

All appeals have been dismissed and he would have to depart immediately. If Bentley did not receive a confirmed plane booking by tomorrow she would arrange his deportation.

But Samiu said: "How? How will I get off the plane in Tonga?"

Since his accident, the former construction worker has become prone to frequent urinary infections and spent yesterday lying in bed in the single bedroom of his niece's Otara home, where he lives.

Samiu is supported financially by his family and draws no welfare benefit. ACC has covered his rehabilitation, physiotherapy and transport, and has provided a motorised wheelchair, the bed and a hoist to move between the two.

If he left New Zealand, that equipment would remain here.

"I don't want to go ... I'm not sure who's going to die first, me or my wife - the carer."

Last month, Samiu agreed to obey a directive from Immigration NZ and return to Tonga, but when he discovered ACC's equipment would have to stay he called it off. Some of his medicines were also not available in Tonga.

Immigration NZ said the Removal Review Authority concluded living in Tonga would be sufficient. Samiu would have a reduced life expectancy but the cost of his disability on the health system meant it was in the public interest for him to return.

- Herald on Sunday

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