20 Feb 2013

Locating cleared Tongans won't be easy - lawyer

10:17 pm on 20 February 2013

An immigration lawyer says tracking down about 40 Tongan nationals whose criminal records were cleared so they could obtain New Zealand visas will be a challenge.

On Tuesday, the Government put an immediate hold on Tongan visa applications that require a police clearance after Tongan police records revealed 172 people had been unlawfully cleared so they could travel.

The Government said immigration officials are seeking about 40 people and they have some names, but not birth certificates.

Richard Small, of Pacific Legal, said some of these people may have been in New Zealand for many years under different names and could be virtually untraceable now.