A Hamilton man desperate to cross the border to attend his young niece’s tangi is devastated his application for a travel exemption has been rejected less than two months away from Aucklanders being able to cross the border for Christmas.
By Te Aniwa Hurihanganui
Poututerangi Stirling is double vaccinated and has recently returned a negative test.
He was the last member of his whānau to speak with his 17-year-old niece before she died, and would like to say one last goodbye at her tangi in Ashburton on Friday.
“My niece is my world…I held her in this world, I was a second father to her, answering her phone calls when she just needed some prayer, or answering her phone calls when she just needed someone to talk to.
“The hardest thing for me to swallow in this whole situation is on the day that she passed away I was the last one in my family to speak to her. I saw her, she phoned me on Facebook in a video… later on in the afternoon I got the pānui that she’d gone.”
The Prime Minister has committed to allowing Aucklanders to leave the city by Christmas.
Stirling said it was disheartening to have his application rejected so close to the finish line.
“Absolutely gutted. I could use some censored words here but being professional about it, I’m absolutely gutted and devastated that the finish line is just there and they can’t have that compassion to say, ‘hey, look, we’re almost there, go’.
“My plan was to go, come back, self-isolate until my test results come back again from another Covid swab and then return to mahi as normal.”
He had one message for the government.
“This s**t needs to stop. It absolutely needs to stop. People have been in my shoes before me. They haven’t been able to grieve, they haven’t been able to have that closure, I will never have that closure, and you’re responsible for it.
Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has thrown his support behind Stirling’s plea.
In a letter of support to the Ministry of Health he said he had seen Stirling’s documentation and was satisfied that he had done his due diligence.
“My team have been working closely with Mr Stirling to support his application to get to his tamāhine’s tangihanga. I have sighted all of the documentation submitted by Mr Stirling and I am satisfied that he has done his due diligence and support his application. It has been declined twice and he has been provided with no reason why.
“I am becoming increasingly concerned and suspicious about the process in which tangihanga travel exemptions are being assessed. I have heard from many constituents who have provided sufficient information only to be declined and many also approved for the same level of information.”
The Ministry of Health has been approached for comment.