18 Aug 2015

Immigration NZ in breach of Privacy Act

5:28 pm on 18 August 2015

Immigration New Zealand has been found to have breached an immigrant's privacy by refusing to correct his date of birth.

The man from Ethiopia had no record of his birth, and arrived in New Zealand with incorrect information on his travel documents.

Two years later he underwent a bone density scan and dental examination to clarify his age, which indicated he was possibly as old as 18 at the time.

The man asked Immigration New Zealand to change his year of birth to 1996, but it refused and added a note to his file instead.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has referred the case to the Director of Human Rights Proceedings.

He said the incorrect date restricted the man from accessing a number of entitlements, including a driver's licence and the adult minimum wage.

But a spokesperson from Immigration said if the man's passport showed his birth year as early 2000, the document itself needed to be altered or replaced, and there were important identity issues at stake.