Kiwi family struggling to return to NZ before birth of child

Vandhna Bhan
Source: 1News

There are no plans to change the rules to make it easier for pregnant New Zealanders to come home before border rules loosen.

Plenty of families are still stuck overseas, with a ticking clock looming loud.

New Zealand resident Irvin Kaur is 30 weeks pregnant and stuck in India. At 36 weeks she will no longer be fit for air travel.

Her husband Tarandeep Singh, who is a New Zealand citizen, says "the border announcement doesn't help me too much because I can only travel after 13th of March. My partner has already started feeling heaviness and showing signs of pre-delivery".

They travelled to New Delhi in December so that their nearly 2-year-old son could meet his grandparents for the first time.

They left on the understanding they could self-isolate when they returned in February, but after the Government delayed its reopening plans, they had to apply for MIQ instead.

"I applied on the 6th and I didn't get any spot then I waited for 20th January as there was supposed to be a second lot of MIQ rooms and that totally got cancelled altogether and that's when I started putting emergency allocation request," says Singh.

But that got rejected twice, despite letters from doctors and midwives saying it's critical for Kaur to be here as Omicron spreads in India, posing a risk to her and the baby. Also, because her last child was delivered by cesarean.

"For many women it is a straightforward process, but they do need care and to make sure that things are on track and access to care and treatment if necessary, if there are complications that arise throughout the pregnancy," says the Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM), Alison Eddy.

"So, having a full system of care as we do in New Zealand is what New Zealanders should expect as their right."

The couple were told to provide evidence of a scheduled surgery for the emergency application to be reconsidered.

"Midwifery is essential healthcare when you're pregnant and why would that not count as being a necessary scheduled medical appointment? I suppose it's perhaps a case of pregnancy and the needs of women not being prioritised sufficiently in our MIQ regime and seen as an essential health service which is necessary to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby," says Eddy.

This is just one of many cases 1News has been told about, and while the Government considered making changes to the application process for pregnancy back in October, 1News was told the idea was rejected back then and its position remains the same now.

That's despite the rising pressure this week to do so after the plight of Charlotte Bellis went viral.

The NZCOM has also been advocating for a change in policy for months now.

"We know the system is changing at the end of this month, which is great news for all of us, but we would like to see that pregnancy is considered as an automatic right to return through MIQ in the interim until those rules change," says Eddy.

The situation is worsening day by day for Tarandeep and Irvin.

"She's already depressed and I'm worried as well what will be the next stage. I'm waking whole nights trying to contact MIQ, waiting for their emails or any sort of updates but they're too slow," says Singh.

Their lawyer, Tudor Clee, who also represented New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis, is now writing to the High Court to review the case as time is running out to catch a flight back home for the Kiwi family.