Immigration New Zealand this week announced a trial in Queenstown to make it less likely that that they will lock up au pairs travelling with their families.

You read that correctly.

Last December Immigration New Zealand had 18-year-old French au pair Manon Pache locked in a police cell overnight before deporting her back to Australia. The poor woman was understandably terrified.

Officials were concerned that she might babysit for her host family, who were visiting from Australia. That was despite Dr Pip and Paul Johnston telling Immigration that their au pair was on holiday with them, that the purpose for their holiday was for them to spend time with their children, and that they had given Pache the choice of a week off in Australia or the week in New Zealand.


Immigration regarded their gift of travel and accommodation for Pache as payment and considered there was a risk she could mind their children while in New Zealand, i.e. undertake paid work.

Quite what the crime would be if she had is a mystery to me. That she would be doing a poor Kiwi out of work? Of course she wouldn't. It's shocking enough she was denied entry. It's appalling she was locked up for the night.

But even worse is that the numbskulls in charge of the policy, the practice, and the exercise of their discretion, spent eight months to produce only a trial - just for Queenstown - that will, they hope, lessen the risk that another au pair will spend a night inside.

That's your tax dollars hard at work.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has described Immigration as "heavy handed" in locking the poor woman up.

But Immigration appears not much guided by the Prime Minister. Or common sense. I am sure there are plenty of wealthy tourists coming into New Zealand with chefs, nannies, security personnel, yachting crew, personal assistants, and so on.

I imagine that, even with the trial, our police cells will soon be bulging. The rules are the rules.