18 Oct 2013

More Afghan interpreters granted residency

9:23 pm on 18 October 2013

Nine more Afghan interpreters have been granted New Zealand residency, after they worked on the front line with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Michael Woodhouse.

Michael Woodhouse. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

The Government is now arranging transport for the men, and 26 of their family members, before they begin the resettlement process.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says the local interpreters are at risk as they are known to have worked with New Zealand personnel in Afghanistan.

He says the Government recognises its duty of care to these men, and their wives and children.

The interpreters and their families will spend six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre preparing for life in New Zealand.

New Zealand resettled 30 Afghan interpreters and 64 family members in April this year under a package agreed by the Cabinet in December 2012.

The latest nine fell outside those requirements and had to put their cases to Mr Woodhouse.

Journalist Jon Stephenson, a long-time critic of the Government over Afghanistan, fears another six interpreters he knows of who worked for the most recent Special Air Service (SAS) deployment won't be allowed into New Zealand

He says they are in greater danger than the nine who are coming here, who he believes are mostly former interpreters for the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team.

"Well the six that I know of that have applied or asked to come here are former SAS interpreters," Stephenson says.

"They worked with the SAS when it was in Afghanistan mentoring the crisis response unit from 2009 to 2012."

Stephenson says the six have a strong case and feel they have been given the cold shoulder in communication with the New Zealand Government.