It is a serious allegation to be making. But it has to be made:
Did New Zealand Immigration kow tow to the Avatar film crew when no one – presumably no one else – was being allowed through the border?
An immigration lawyer certainly thinks this is possible. James McLeod says that the rules in force during the lock down did not permit an exemption for grounds of significant economic value. Mr McLeod said that it is not possible for the crew to have entered into New Zealand space pursuant to the rules in force in May.
This is really damning. As someone who championed the COVID19 lock down and the subsequent self isolation of New Zealanders that led to the country effectively grinding to a halt for four weeks and to a semi-halt until 14 May, I find this quite unsettling. I fully expect that at any time New Zealand Immigration will be working first and foremost for the well being of New Zealand. If that means telling a foreign film crew wanting to shoot a Hollywood block buster here when most New Zealanders were still in enforced lock down that they cannot come in, then that is what should have happened.
Another report suggests that New Zealand immigration is a bit of a lottery. This is as opposed to a coherent functioning system that ensures that the integrity of New Zealand’s border security is main
In the end, both Labour and National are wrong. Labour is wrong because whilst ordinary New Zealanders were largely confined to their homes, there was no legitimate grounds for anyone to be entering New Zealand, unless they were permanent residents or citizens returning home. That means the Avatar film crew should have stayed away. So should the America’s Cup crews that National wanted to let in on the same grounds. Neither are essential to New Zealand – the country is not going to fall over just because they were told to stay away.
But also, there arises issues of quarantining here. Whilst the Avatar crew have said that they would quarantine for two weeks, upon arrival, there are some serious flaws in the way we have been handling quarantine which are serious enough as to pose as big a threat to the incumbent Labour Government as any decent challenge by National. Who flew that Avatar crew into New Zealand and who ensured that they went into quarantine whilst they were here? Did the crew of that plane go into quarantine themselves, and if not, why not?
We need to get serious about quarantining new arrivals and making sure that they do not breach the rules that a team of 5 million worked so hard to adhere. We need to do this because I would be severely annoyed – and I am quite sure this goes for every other New Zealander as well – if because a few people who were non-compliant were let into New Zealand we suddenly find ourselves going back to Level 4 lock down.
I do not think New Zealand would stand for that. And nor should they.