Govt won't appeal Grounded Kiwis MIQ case

The Government will not be appealing the Grounded Kiwis High Court case.

MIQ facility.

In April, the Grounded Kiwis advocacy group won its case on MIQ, with a High Court judge ruling the way New Zealand's borders were managed during part of the Covid-19 pandemic did, in some cases, impede the right of returning New Zealanders in a way that was not justified in a free and democratic society.

Until today, the Government had not ruled out appealing the case.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall confirmed the Government won't be appealing that case after receiving legal advice on Monday.

When asked if they would issue an apology, Verrall said, "we know the MIQ process was tough on people but it was essential in keeping New Zealanders safe".

"It prevented tens of thousands of deaths but we also know it put a major cost on people who sought to cross the border and we want to acknowledge that was very tough on people.

"I think we need to make sure our response to this judgement is balanced."

She said the Government has "continuing engagement with the Grounded Kiwis group as a result of that legal action".

"We're yet to fully digest the advice."

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked if the Government would apologise, she said they "have acknowledged that the closure of our borders has been hard on an incredible number of people".

"We've acknowledged that all the way through. But, we've also asserted it was an important part of our response in keeping people safe. But, there will be incredibly difficult situations and we've always acknowledged that."

ACT leader David Seymour said the decision not to appeal the Grounded Kiwis case "is an admission the Government got it wrong".

"People wanted and needed to come home for many reasons. Family reunions, deaths of loved ones, the arrival of new babies, to fill jobs, and just being with family and friends. New Zealand is their home, and this Government kept them locked out and fighting over a tiny number of MIQ spaces like some sort of cruel game."

When the April ruling was announced, then Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged the High Court ruling, making the admission that the lobby system "may have infringed" on some citizens' right to enter New Zealand.

"MIQ was always the least worst option to help keep Covid-19 from entering and spreading in New Zealand, and the Court concluded that other options would not sufficiently have achieved the public health objectives the Government had legitimately determined to pursue," he said.

“We have long acknowledged the difficult trade-offs we’ve had to make in our Covid-19 response to save lives and the effects of those decisions on all New Zealanders, particularly those living abroad."