Border ban jailed German yachties

Published on September 29th, 2020

The border restrictions by the New Zealand government due to COVID-19 has put a dent in the 2020-21 America’s Cup schedule, cancelling the Youth America’s Cup while hastening tourism plans for the big event.

And despite the cyclone season approaching the region on November 1, there remains little room for leniency as three German yachties learned when they were refused entry after arriving in the Bay of Islands and have been jailed until they board a flight home on October 1.

The group applied for an exemption after they had already set sail for New Zealand but their application was refused as the Ministry of Health was not convinced the boat had a compelling need to come into the country.

The trio, aged from their late twenties to early thirties, said they had planned to sail from Tahiti to New Zealand, leave their boat in Opua and then fly back to Germany. They initially wanted to leave the boat in French Polynesia, but they were not able to leave it in the water there due to the cyclone season and were not able to make other arrangements for storage.

The trio left for New Zealand and applied for the exemption, with Fiji being their back up option if their application was not granted. They were two days away from New Zealand when they were told their exemption application was declined by the Ministry of Health.

However, their boat, including the mast, had been damaged during their journey and it was beginning to let in water. The ocean storms brewing meant they decided to continue to New Zealand.

They had intended to spend $50,000 in New Zealand repairing their boat and had thought this would help with their exemption application, but once they reached land, the group was arrested by Immigration New Zealand.

At this point, they tried to claim an exemption on humanitarian grounds due to their damaged boat.

Solicitor Terri Thompson, acting on behalf of Immigration New Zealand, said the trio took the risk to travel to New Zealand without approval in the climate of COVID-19, showing a “flagrant disregard” for the rules. – RNZ, full story

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