The Petra Schier case

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, has responded to the public concern surrounding the deportation of the German overstayer, Mrs Petra Schier, who flew out of New Zealand today.

'I am concerned that many good-hearted middle New Zealanders vigorously supported Mrs Schier in her efforts to remain in New Zealand, without being told the full story," he said.

'In considering the case of Mr and Mrs Schier, I had full regard to every representation made on their behalf. I also took full account of the fact that, over an eight-year period, they had used every legal avenue open to them and, in every case, they had been turned down.

'In light of those judgments, I was unwilling to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal and allow the Schiers to stay.

'There have been suggestions that my decision took into account allegations that the Schiers were involved in illegal drugs while living in Maruia. Those allegations in no way influenced my decision.

'However, following my decision not to overturn the Court of Appeal, I became aware that in 1997 Mr and Mrs Schier had been charged with possession of cannabis for supply following the discovery of more than half a kilogram of cannabis in their bedroom.

'Mr Schier was further charged with possession of cannabis leaf, a jar of cannabis seeds and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

'The Schiers escaped prosecution when these charges were later withdrawn following advice that the legal precedents cited to justify the search of the Schiers' home had been overtaken by case law and a prosecution probably would not have succeeded.

'This information reinforced my belief that I had made the correct decision, but I must emphasize that I was unaware of these charges at the time I made it.

'Because of the orchestrated campaign of personal attacks against me by some media commentators, it has been very tempting to release this information well before today. However, in the interests of the children, I decided it was better to wait until they departed New Zealand with their mother.

'In recent days I have been asked that Mrs Schier's departure be delayed several weeks while she tries to sell the family business. I would point out that the Schiers have had many years' warning that their ability to remain in New Zealand was under question. Various Courts and Review Tribunals have confirmed this. It is quite incorrect therefore to suggest that their deportation has come as a rude surprise.

'Following the Court of Appeal decision last December the normal course of events would have been to remove them from New Zealand immediately, as is usually the case. However, I agreed to give Mr and Mrs Schier 3 months in which to settle their affairs, including the selling of their business. Instead they chose to expend their energies fighting my decision.

'I note further that my own assessment of the Schiers' business as a non-profitable enterprise seems to be confirmed by the real estate agent, who also appears to believe the asking price is unjustified. Seeking an unrealistic price for the business seems to be another delaying tactic ' but one that will not work.

'I had not intended to make this information public, but over the past several months it has become clear to me that many people have been drawn into supporting the Schiers without having all the facts at their disposal.

'It was the Schiers' own decision that they would attempt to evade New Zealand's immigration laws. They have been able to avail themselves freely of every legal avenue of appeal in New Zealand; it is now time for them to accept the consequences of their own actions,' said the Minister.