Correction: This story incorrectly said that Satya Enterprises was associated with Thirsty Liquor. This was based on wrong information supplied by Immigration New Zealand.

A Christchurch liquor store and its owner have been ordered to pay $6,000 for employing an unlawful Indian migrant for three and a half years.

Satya Enterprises Ltd, which operates several liquor stores in Christchurch trading under the Bottle-O brand, and it's director, Inderjit Singh, were each fined $3,000 after being convicted at the Christchurch District Court this morning of a charge under the Immigration Act for allowing the person to work illegally.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll refused to grant the defendants a discharge without conviction, saying such a step would not protect migrants or deter employers from using inappropriate workers.

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"The defendant's actions have undermined the foundation and integrity of New Zealand's immigration system," O'Driscoll wrote in his reserved judgement.

"I do regard this offending as serious."

Peter Devoy, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) assistant general manager, warned New Zealand businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that their employees are legally entitled to work for them.

"Singh had a history with Immigration New Zealand of sponsoring other migrant workers for visas. He was well aware of his obligations as an employer, yet had this person working for him illegally for a prolonged period of time. We hope this sentence sends a strong signal that we will take action against employers who are implicated in such behavior," Devoy said.

The worker has subsequently left New Zealand.