Police are urging the public to stop giving money to beggars in Auckland's Queen St after warnings were issued to two men dressed as Buddhist monks over begging in the inner city.
"Police advise members of the public not to give money to anyone begging on the streets and instead refer them to agencies such as Lifewise and City Mission who are in a position to be able to offer support," Auckland Central acting area commander Gary Davey said.
He confirmed that a second "monk" was spoken to by police on Tuesday and "warned for begging and causing nuisance", which was a breach of an Auckland Council bylaw.
Immigration New Zealand yesterday said it had also received complaints about the two and was investigating.
"Both individuals were issued with two-year multiple entry visitor visas on the grounds that they wanted to do some sightseeing in New Zealand," said spokesman Marc Piercey. "Although there is nothing that expressly prevents visitor visa holders from soliciting donations from the public, such actions may contravene council bylaws."
One of the monks is a 38-year-old Chinese national, Chen Ming Xin, who came to Auckland from China on December 31, according to identity documents sighted by the Herald.
Visitor visa holders are not allowed to undertake any employment while in New Zealand, but begging and soliciting donations is not considered employment.
Security officers employed by Auckland Council said they were looking for a woman, dressed as a Taoist nun, who had also been soliciting donations in an aggressive manner.
Beggars attired as monks have been seen operating in Australia, New York, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Last June, the New South Wales Government issued a press statement, "Bogus Buddhists Are Back", and in Hong Kong a "Fake Monks in Hong Kong" Facebook page was set up. In New York, a "Fake Monks in New York City" Facebook page was set up to document the monks' whereabouts, from Central Park to its Chinese suburbs, where local monks have mostly chased them away.
A man in monk's robes was also spoken to by police in Wellington last year after complaints.