Immigration New Zealand has confirmed Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, known as Posie Parker, will be able to enter Aotearoa.
General manager Richard Owen said Keen-Minshull did not meet the high threshold to be considered an excluded person under Section 16 of the Immigration Act 2009.
“We note there is nothing specified in the Immigration Act or immigration instructions which could be used to prevent a person travelling to New Zealand on a temporary basis based on their previous expression of opinion and ideas.”
Owen said the agency appreciated that some people will not agree with this assessment, but it was critical that INZ applies the law in all such cases, regardless of the views the individual holds.
”The assessment means that Ms Keen-Minshull can use her visa waiver status as a British citizen and travel to New Zealand on the basis of holding a New Zealand electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).”
Section 16 of the Immigration Act states no visa or entry permission may be granted, and no visa waiver may apply, to any person who the Minister has reason to believe is likely to commit an offence in New Zealand that is punishable by imprisonment.
Those who are, or are likely to be a threat or risk to security, public order or the public interest or are part of a terrorist entity designated under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, are also included under the Act.
Michael Wood, Minister for Immigration, said the case of whether to allow Keen-Minshull into the country did not meet the threshold for ministerial intervention.
The INZ assessment took into account the events in Melbourne, where her speaking event drew a crowd, including people who were seen giving Nazi salutes and shouting slurs, Wood said.
“Like many New Zealanders, I would prefer it if Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull never set foot in New Zealand. I find many of her views repugnant, and am concerned by the way in which she courts some of the most vile people and groups around, including white supremacists,” Wood said.
“As we look towards her events for this coming weekend, the welfare and safety of our transgender community is front of mind.
“Event organisers maintain the primary responsibility to ensure they run a safe and secure event and police have advised they will also be in attendance to ensure public safety.
“I condemn her inflammatory, vile and incorrect worldviews, and will always stand alongside those New Zealanders who use their own right to free speech against those who wish to take society backwards.”
Green Party MP Elizabeth Kerekere told NZME she was disappointed and “really shocked” that there was no reason to decline the visit “despite the public harm that might be caused.
“It’s outrageous and I have to say gutless.”
Kerekere said attention will now be going into peaceful protest to show this is not the kind of “behaviour and vitriol”, they want in this country.
On the Labour Government allowing the activist in, she said it was hypocritical.
“Don’t turn up at our big rainbow events, promise big things and then not take this opportunity to show and make a stand for the protection for the rights, the humanity, the dignity of our trans [and] non-binary people.”
Kerekere’s message to Wood was that there was still time to change the decision, and she hopes that he does.
“She claims to be speaking about women’s rights but really she is just hating on trans and non-binary people.
“I think that we still haven’t learnt the lessons of what happened on the mosque attack, we haven’t made any strides on hate crime or hate speech in this country.”
National’s Education spokeswoman Erica Stanford said the decision was unsurprising as the legislation is “quite clear and sets a very high threshold” for refusing entry into New Zealand.
”We can’t ban people on the basis that we don’t agree with what they say. The best antidote to speech we don’t like is more speech.”
Counter-protests have already been arranged for both Auckland and Wellington events.
The counter-protesters are meeting at the Albert Park Band Rotunda at 11am on Saturday and Wellington protesters are meeting at the City to Sea bridge at 1.30pm on Sunday.
An online petition has also been launched calling for her to be kept out of Aotearoa.
Wellington mayor Tory Whanau told the Herald although she cannot ban Keen-Minshull from speaking, she will support a counter-protest against her.
“These views are dangerous and harmful for our community, and I am worried people are being so open about hating part of our community.
“We know with our trans whānau there is quite a high suicide rate and that’s because they are made to feel less than human – views that will be heard this weekend contribute to that.”
The latest stop on Keen-Minshull’s Let Women Speak tour in Tasmania saw the self-described women’s rights activist swarmed by hundreds of protesters who drowned out the relatively small number of people who turned out in support.
The spirited response left Keen-Minshull complaining about a lack of police protection and gave fuel to Kiwis hoping for a similar reaction when the tour arrives in Aotearoa this weekend.
Keen-Minshull has widely criticised policies that support the transgender community and has been labelled as an anti-trans activist.
The Mercury reported that around 40 anti-transgender activists from Let Women Speak attempted to hold their rally yesterday outside Hobart’s State Parliament building, but were outnumbered 10-to-one by counter-protestors, who pushed the smaller group back onto the steps of Parliament and chanted over their attempts to speak, leaving them effectively surrounded.
An Auckland Council spokesperson told the Herald it had received an application for an event permit from the organisers, along with a Health and Safety Plan.
“The event organisers have the primary responsibility to ensure they run a safe and secure event and we have been informed that they have hired their own security team.”
They said the council will continue to monitor health, safety and security risks until the date of the event.
“We recognise that Aucklanders hold a wide range of views on issues and that the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are protected by law. The granting of an event permit does not indicate that the council endorses the event.”
Additional reporting by Azaria Howell