26 Sep 2013

Unemployed NZer in Australia tempted to fake status for benefit

5:46 am on 26 September 2013

A Tauranga man who moved to Australia nearly a decade ago admits he considered pretending to be a refugee to a social welfare agency so he could get a benefit faster.

Te Rangatahi Taniora says for six months after his casual contract ended, he and his small daughter were virtually left homeless.

He says he blames the 2001 law changes which saw only New Zealanders being barred from getting social welfare benefits.

Mr Taniora says he almost lied to the authorities that he was an asylum seeker because he was so desperate to get money.

The Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Ranginui man says just knowing that boat refugees and asylum seekers could by-pass a lot of legislation, and what they had access to, tempted him to fake his status.

He says compared to the refugees he had nothing and had to struggle to make ends meet.

Te Rangatahi Taniora says he is still psychologically affected today by the trauma of living it rough on the streets.