'I am happy' - Behrouz Boochani plans life in New Zealand, eyes permanent visa

Source: 1News

Celebrated Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani has been given a research role at the University of Canterbury and says he plans to apply for permanent New Zealand residency.

It was confirmed today that the journalist, who has written extensively about being detained in Australia's detention system, had been granted refugee status here. 

Behrouz Boochani had been in New Zealand since November after arriving for a writer’s festival. Before that he spent years detained on Manus Island.

Mr Boochani told 1 NEWS today he looks forward to being able to start moving forward with life.

“I think it is a great feeling. I am happy now that I can start thinking about my future. I am stable.

“I will apply for permanent visa and so I’m going to stay here.”

He says gaining refugee status in New Zealand is like the end of a chapter of his life.

“I look at it in that way. I have created a network here. I have very good friends here in the art community in the university so it's fine, I’m really enjoying my time here in Christchurch.”

The University of Canterbury has also today announced it has asked Mr Boochani to become a senior adjunct research fellow based at the Ngāi Tahu research centre.

Mr Boochani says he will be working with people in New Zealand and internationally on a “big project” covering migration, climate change and indigenous peoples on Manus Island and Papua New Guinea.

Professor Catherine Moran, deputy vice-chancellor says the university is “very proud” to have him.

“He’s already collaborating on projects of Pacific and migrant rights and art installation and film projects,” says Ms Moran.

She says university is about extending intellectual ideas and a colleague like Behrouz will add to their team both here and internationally.

“We’re very proud to be part of this and having Behrouz with us.”

Though Mr Boochani says he is happy to be here, the Australian government's policy to deter asylum seekers arriving by boat continues, and so to will his work to dismantle that system.

“Of course I cannot fully celebrate this and enjoy it because still this policy exists. Still some people are in detention in Australia, Port Moresby, Nauru and still the Australian government continues to torture people,” he says.

"It is our story and we should challenge them because what the Australian government has done is actually crime against humanity so I say that very strongly and everywhere I go I say that because they damaged many people, many families.

“So that’s why it’s really difficult, but of course I am happy.”

With his newfound freedom, it's the little things that keep Mr Boochani going.

“It’s really difficult to describe but the only thing I can say is I enjoy the simple things in my life, like walking, reading.”