A Māori elder's Filipino wife has been asked to leave the country because Immigration New Zealand does not believe their relationship is genuine.

Tuakau Taka, 59, married Maria Alma Yu, 49, in Auckland in 2016, at a ceremony witnessed by his daughter from a previous marriage and her husband.

But Immigration New Zealand said it wasn't satisfied that Yu met the requirements of the partnership category to be granted a visa.

Taka said he had given everything the agency has asked for to prove that his love and relationship with his wife was real.


"I have no clue about what else they want, and I feel insulted that they are accusing us of not telling the truth," he said.

"I just want what is rightfully due to me and my wife, and for us to be given a chance to live meaningful and fulfilling lives here in Aotearoa as a couple."

Supplied wedding photo of Tuakau Taka and his wife Alma Taka. 19 June 2018
Supplied wedding photo of Tuakau Taka and his wife Alma Taka. 19 June 2018

Taka, who hails from Ngāpuhi, Ngātiwai and Tainui iwi, alleged it was a "lack of cultural understanding" on INZ's part that had led the decision.

"They haven't checked out whom I am, what I do, and that I have a status as a kaumātua."

The Northland-born Māori elder believed that his wife, who gained the title of kuia - or a female elder - through marriage with a kaumātua, should have the automatic right to stay.

"I'm a descendant of those before me who are born in this country, and to be treated like that by immigration is not very fair," he said.

Taka said the two officers sent by INZ to assess their relationship - a young Indian and another Asian - did not have any understanding of Māori culture "whatsoever".

"I feel that my mana as Māori and as a kaumātua has been trampled on by these young immigration officers who get to decide on people like us who are matured and experienced enough to know what true relationship is all about," Taka said.


"All I know as a New Zealand citizen that when I married my wife, she should automatically be allowed to stay in NZ and get the same rights and privilege as I have."

INZ manager Michael Carley said he rejected Taka's allegations.

"Each application that INZ receives is assessed on its own merits and in line with relevant instructions," he said.

Carley said Yu's application for a partnership work visa was declined in March because the agency was not satisfied she met requirements under the category.

"INZ gave Ms Yu the opportunity to address a number of concerns about the application, but the application was declined as INZ was not satisfied that she met all four requirements for a partnership work visa - credibility, living together, genuine partnership and stable partnership," Carley said.

"Ms Yu made a request to the Associate Minister of Immigration under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009, but he declined to intervene in her case last month. The Act specifically states that the decision maker is not required to give reasons for the decision and as such INZ is unable to provide any further comment."

Carley said Yu has been unlawfully in New Zealand since March 10 and is encouraged to depart.

Taka was introduced to Yu in August 2015 when she was new to the country and he offered to take her to her clinical placement at the Park Haven Resthome in Māngere.

She was then a student doing a diploma in healthcare level 5 at the Auckland Goldstar Institute.

Taka took her to Mission Bay on their first date and later introduced her to his extended family.

"The fact that my husband is Māori, I am honoured to meet one, and he shared with me his culture, his love for his whānau and his country," Yu said.

Yu described Taka as very approachable, gentle in spirit and who made her feel welcomed.

Three months later, she moved in with Taka at his South Auckland home and started "a new life living together as a couple".

Taka introduced Yu to his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they now share the same faith.