All Stories featured on this blog may be further published without need for consent or permission
(permission has already been given).

Ki ngā kōrero a katoa e whakaatihia ana i ringa i tēnei tuhinga ka taea te whakaaetanga kia whakaaetia rānei
(kua oti te tuku whakaaetaga).

Do you want to show your support for kiwis struggling to get home ?
If so, please read our full petition seeking changes to the MIQ system and sign the petition on the parliament website by clicking below :

With MIQ facilities full, these are the stories of Kiwis struggling to get in.

Kua ki tonu ngā whare MIQ, anei ngā kōrero mō ngā Kiwi e ngāna ana ki te hoki mai ki te kāinga.

Looking out a window toward a 300-year-old olive tree with the perfect blue sky above. My view is slightly marred by the green leaves of a grapevine that tangles its way across the window. I hear crickets chirping and gardening tools scratching in the background. France is particularly beautiful this year. What a privilege to be here and have the freedom to work remotely - one of the few benefits of the collective difficulty we have all experienced. This marks the weekend we were supposed to be getting married in a Chateau up the road from here. Well, that was then and this is now. We had only got so far as enquiring in February 2020 before we realised it might be worth waiting. Fortunately my partner and I are able tovisit his parents for a few weeks. Travel is not advised, but we are both fully vaccinated and he has an EU passport so of course there were no issues getting here from England. Unfortunately, his father has been diagnosed with a very rare lung disease and they have sold their family home. This marks our final visit to this place. It is important that we are here, so here we are. Before we left the UK two weeks ago, the government had u-turned on their policy for UK citizens returning from France. We will have to isolate when we return. Since we have been here, the UK government has u-turned again - we will no longer have to isolate as we are both fully vaccinated. One might see these frequent changes of policy as frustrating or roll their eyes at the indecisiveness. My view? Well, the situation has changed so the approach should change too. It has been 18 months since I saw my parents last. It has been 18 months since my parents saw any of their three children. In the past 18 months, their only grandson has grown from a toddling 1.5-year-old to a talkative three year old. He doesn’t know who they are. He doesn’t know zoom etiquette. They only know what his laughter sounds like because of video recordings. They haven’t felt one of his gripping cuddles or experienced the kind gestures he does at random. Their second grandchild is on its way. They apprehensively say they will be here in July 2022, but who could know? That sublime day into the future where we can all meet again. Vera Lynn would be proud. That will be the same day we get married, because there is noway I am taking my parents for granted again. I had known she was sick. She had been indecline for the last 20 years. But it seemed to be increasingly grim over the last 6 months. I would call her and her throaty voice would answer and transforminto giggles and wonder as I told her about my antics in lockdown. We would bond over tea and gardening. One morning, very early, I received a video WhatsApp call from her. She was on her back with tubes emitting from her face. Her skin looked like old orange peels. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her eyes were hooded and out of focus. I am grateful that I could say goodbye. My Granny. Who flipped out when voicemail first started, said goodbye to her granddaughter over a WhatsApp call. I will never get to cuddle her again. I will never get to look at her grubby fingernails again. I will never get to scratch her back again. My granny. She didn’t want me to waste money coming home to see her. I couldn’t have anyway. But why?

I understand why New Zealand closed their borders in March 2020. They were right. My partner is European/British so there is no way I would leave for New Zealand without him. Therefore, we made the decision to stick it out in the UK. To be honest, I feel like it was the right decision. These were all the right decisions in ‘That Moment’. Borders closed. Me staying in the UK. All right. It’s alright. Isn’t it? That Moment has passed. We are now 16 months down the road. The UK has had some very dark days, but now with the vaccine roll out and Freedom Day, things are feeling optimistic. We are learning to live with covid. I order lateral flow tests and test myself every week. I wear a mask and sanitise my hands on every occasion. I have been very fortunate not to catch covid. And what about New Zealand? How are they learning to live with covid? What is the path out? When can I get married? When can my parents see their children and grandchildren? Will my last remaining grandparent also have to say goodbye via a technology she fears? I check the MIQ site every. Single. Day. No luck. But I see that there are magic spaces available for people who travel from Australia. I see that the ‘come home’ amnesty exists for holiday makers in direct contradiction to the definitive advice of personal risk. I see Olympians who are allowed to travel. I see that the Black Caps have visited. I see that the All Blacks are coming to the UK. How wonderful. I wonder how they will get on with booking MIQ spaces given the difficulty all other New Zealanders are having? I hope they know they can hire a bot to hack the system in their place...

Anonymous

Ki Ora,
I am a kiwi living in Europe for the past six years. It has been incredibly difficult over Covid, and in the past three years I have met my Dutch partner, started a company in the Netherlands and we bought a house. So I couldn't just return on a whim. My family have not met my partner, nor my stepchildren, and meanwhile my brother has had a baby, and is getting married over summer where I am supposed to be a part of the wedding party. I am double vaccinated and have been desperately trying to get a spot in MIQ (just for me, I know it would absolutely be impossible for my non kiwi partner). I am resigning to the fact I will miss these important family milestones, and I so desperately miss my family. I don't dispute the need for quarantine, or the cost, although I recognise that the cost makes it only available to those kiwis who are in a privileged position to be able to pay. All I ask is a fair and transparent, and capable(!!) booking system, and fit for purpose quarantine facilities with a longer-term view. There is no end game here, and seemingly no long-term plan for what started as a stop gap solution which is serving the needs of almost no one.

Lucy

This year was meant to be an excitement! I had been given a chance to teach in France and my Kiwi partner and I made the move just before the first lockdown in February 2020. We promised family that we wouldn't be far away and that we would be back for my nephew's 5th birthday and my younger sister’s graduation after 6 hard years of studies. As lockdown's began, we kept an eye out for places in quarantine so that we could come home to support our family and seemy partners dying grandfather... After spending an entire week on quarantine websites we started losing hope. After being so excited that more bed spaces were opened up, we were online again and within minutes they were gone. Our hopes were fading and the thought of coming home is now a distant dream. I have never felt so far away from familyas what I do right now. Please consider allowing vaccinated people to come home to be with dying relatives. Hoping one day we will return and the nephews may understand why we have been gone so long. However I am finding it hard to stay positive right now 😢

Anonymous

My husband and I moved to New Zealand eight years ago to join our daughter.  We have made successful lives here, worked hard, paid a lot in tax and I would hope, added to the NZ economy & community. All was great, as we had a son in Japan who is not a Kiwi Citizen, we travelled to see him and his family every six months.  
When we moved here, we knew that we would be miles apart from him, we believed that in an event of an emergency, we were able to afford flights and could be together within 24 hours, how wrong were we! We have now not seen our family for two years due to COVID and closed borders. Last year my daughter-in-law in Japan was diagnosed with breast cancer, my son-in-law in NZ nearly died due to an unknown virus, not COVID, which attacked his heart and now my fit, healthy husband has just been diagnosed witha brain lesion which requires a major operation. Through all of this we as a family have not been able to be together to support and comfort one another. Although we are all vaccinated, we are unable to be together.  
At the moment we have no idea what my husband’s prognosis is, as he needs to have brain surgery, then a four week wait, and then wait for the histology to determine what is going to happen.  
We cannot request a compassionate exception or MIQ place for our son as we do not know how long my husband has left – in fact we do not want to know that how long he has, why should we be forced to ask this question of the doctors when we don’t want to know the answer just to complete a government form. I am sick of hearing the PM telling us tobe kind – get a grip and practice what you tell us to do. It appears to me that if you are a sports person – from any country, an entertainer, rich or a politician then one rule applies to you but hardworking, Jo public does not matter.

Phil & Jackie

Hi
My name is Ann. I am a sixty-three-year-old woman and a cancer patient. Although at this stage I am not terminal it does make you realize your mortality. I do not wish to die here in the USA.
Also I have just had my fifth grandchildborn. Unfortunately she was born with a blood disorder. Very distressing for us all. I have tried and tried to book MIQ and just don't have the energy to be on it all day. I have considered paying someone to do this. My green card runs outin November. I hope there's no problem in renewing it, as it’s a requirement for Medicaid. I just can't understand why the Govt cannot address this problem with MIQ. Open more facilities or quarantine at home.
Please let us come home
Thank you so much for letting me vent.
Regards

Ann

Hi.
We left NZ in April 2019 and when Covid came we thought that we would wait for all the urgent returnees to get back. So last month we started to look and book for October/November. The rest of this story is going down in history. Maybe we can eventually return in home quarantine as both had the Pfizer Jabs in April and May. Who knows? In the old days we could have started to drive. Regards and thanks.

Murray and Raewyn

Hi - here’s our MIQ story. We have a new-born baby that we would love to share with our family in NZ. We had planned to return to NZ in early 2022 but it is looking increasingly unlikely because of the competitiveness of MIQ spots. It has been highly distressing and our mental health has certainly suffered at the prospect of being unable to return home at such an important stage of our lives. We have no support system and never envisaged starting off parenthood without our family around us. Similarly our family in NZ are distraught at having no ability to see us. My mother has been so affected she was hospitalised for poor mental health. We join many other kiwis who have valid reasons to return and it is heart-breaking and completely off-brand for NZ’sprime minister to be allowing such a cruel situation to escalate. We understand that NZ won’t be comfortable changing its border policy until more vaccines have been administered, but we have been frankly embarrassed by the poor roll out of the vaccine programme in NZ which has appeared slow, uncoordinated and with an illogical prioritisation strategy (for example our elderly parents live 1km from an international airport and are yet to receive a vaccine, however small remote towns in NZ are close to fully vaccinated??). This poor vaccine roll out has left NZ behind the times compared to other countries which are starting to open up and move around, hence the sudden increase in demand for people to return to NZ. There seems very little reason why the NZ govt can’t produce more MIQ capacity or offer an alternative isolation policyfor low-risk returnees. If cost is an issue, people are willing to pay - as evidenced by the extortionate fees people are willing to pay to use third parties to secure MIQ spots. Surely the tourism industry would leap at the chance to sell hotel rooms given the torsion sector has been wiped out? At the very least there should be some sensible prioritisation of distribution of MIQ spots.  

For example high priority should be Kiwis whose visas have expired and find themselves locked out; kiwis who are desperate to see family for medical emergencies/bereavement. We have been most unimpressed to see resident Kiwis securing MIQ spots to take advantage of a summer holiday around Europe when there are far more deserving returnees. Again, an easy solution is to increase MIQ capacity. We live and work in the UK as many young kiwis do temporarily to make the most of better job opportunities but with the ultimate goal of acquiring skills to bring back to NZ. Despite this long term benefit to NZ, we have found the mood of the nation to be one of “shut them out”, a mood only fuelled by the governments scare mongering communication strategy. It appears to us that the NZ government has both failed to secure vaccine supplies and failed to sensibly administer the supply it has secured. It’s not an exaggeration to say that many people’s lives have been severely affected as a direct result of the MIQ debacle. We can only hope we are one of the lucky few who secure an MIQ spot in the new year (we will absolutely be reaching out to third parties to compete for a place - that’s the game now that demand significantly outpaces supply). We have not been “proud Kiwis” lately and we will likely hold a grudge against the NZ govt for many years to come.

Georgia

Hi. We were booked to leave the UK for ou rholiday on 26 April 2020 and as we all know Covid lockdown was implemented on the 23rd. So we had to cancel our trip. We decided to see what would happen with Covid and make a new plan. MIQ was implemented and seemed that bookings were (although infrequent and limited) being released.
My Father passed away at the beginning of March 2021 and even this did not get me into one of the two categories for an emergency allocation.  So we had to virtually attend his funeral, which was very hard.  Having seen others in our age group pass away and including other factors, we decided it was time to move back home. This decision was made in April-May and at that point MIQ was publishing available dates and it seemed quite likely that a booking was available even in the worst case with a one-month delay.  So I gave my two weeks’ notice to quit my job and also placed the house on the market. I finished working at the start of July, so I am now unemployed, and in 2 weeks’ time the house sale is final, and so we will be homeless.  All our possessions will be in transport back to New Zealand except for one suitcase each, and we have no idea for what period of time we will be stuck in limbo. We cannot commit to a furnished property rental due to a six-month minimum contract period (as we have no idea when we might get a MIQ booking).  So we have no choice but to try to find cheap hotels until we get the golden MIQ booking.So for those complaining about the enforced two-week hotel stay for MIQ, we will potentially have to spend months doing this. Since April-May I have been searching the MIQ website multiple times day and night and have not seen any availability.  
We fully understand and are very proud of why New Zealand has taken the decision and steps it has to protect the New Zealand public. Howevera two-week quarantine and negative tests provide surety that everyone released from quarantine will not be bringing in this unwanted guest.  So why can they not increase the number of MIQ hotels as this site and many other forums show there is a real need.  MIQ is still stuck in the first come first served method with no triaging of requests, but surely some of us in dire circumstances need and deserve the place more than those who just want a holiday.  Covid has unfortunately draggedon long enough that we are at the point that they could (and should) have reviewed the service they were providing and made amendments/improvements as necessary.  At minimum, I would request that they at least keep us informed about what is happening. They are the ones who know what capacity there is, and how many requests they have waiting, therefore calculating an expected wait time.  With information, those of us waiting can make educated decisions and would not have to spend allour time refreshing a stupid webpage in the hope that our lives can move forward.  
Unfortunately with the ever-changing situation in Australia and all our Olympians returning, I live in fear that it might be many months before any bookings are available. Inside the front cover of our NZ passports there is a statement which includes “allow the holder to pass without delay or hinderance and in case of need to give all lawful assistance and protection”

Bill

Hello
I'm trying to book an MIQ slot to get home for my sister's wedding in January. The wedding has already been postponed once due to the pandemic. In order to get back in time for the wedding in mid-January, I'd need to book a hotel slot towards the end of December, which is a popular time to get home. I am really worried that I won't be able to book a slot. I have signed up to receive Twitter notifications when new slots are released, but I've heard that bots have been developed by people to help them secure a slot, and I don't think I'll be able to compete with that. I am even willing to travel or quarantine over Christmas to get back, but it feels extremely unlikely that I'll be ableto get a slot.I hope something changes to make the system fairer. Thanks

Nicola

My husband and I wish so dearly to return to our birth country to live permanently in our own home, we have been living and working in the UK for the past twelve years, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer on the day we were notified of a flight home, September 1st. Unfortunately we had to cancel it due to his operation being the next month, thankfully he has recovered very well but we have been trying to get on the MIQ system ever since with the help of friends and travel agent but still no luck, it has been nearly 5 years since we have been back. We miss our family and want to go home as we are both retired now and any date would suit us. As Hipkins keeps saying that people have not been able to get the dates they require we don't care which dates, even Xmas day is fine although December, we have been told is full but has not even been released yet how is this possible . PLEASE NZ SORT OUT THIS SYSTEM AND DO A WAITING LIST OR SOMETHING

Chris

Thank you for giving us a voice and an opportunity to tell our stories.

I moved to the UK alone in mid-2017. I have no family here, with all of my family living in NZ. I last saw my family in January 2018. I had a trip planned in May 2020, but Covid obviously scuppered those plans.

In the midst of the pandemic - living alone (both of my British flatmates packed up and went back to their parents in early March), I discovered my birth father for the first time. 29 and finally able to call someone my ‘Dad’. I also discovered I have multiple half-siblings that I was unaware of. They all live in NZ.

It’s been three and a half years since I’ve seen my long-known family. It seems like an eternity. But, in addition to this- it’s been over a year since I’ve known of this new family of mine. My Father has told me many a time that he worries I’m going to catch Covid and we’re never going to get the chance to meet. On the other side, I hope and pray that I don’t have to wait years more to meet him and my siblings, or worse - that something would happen and I never got the chance to say hello, let alone goodbye.

I’m hoping and praying that I can get an MIQ spot for December 2021, although pretty doubtful. I'm applying for my indefinite leave in April next year - meaning I won’t be able to travel for upto 6 months while my visa is being processed. If I don't get back in the December slots, I'd be hard pressed to get that much leave off in one go until next Christmas. This potentially means I could be without seeing my family forup to five years. Five!

I just want to hug my family and friends. It’s so disheartening to see performers and sportspeople able to get MIQ spots in NZ, but we’re literally stranded on the other side of the world. It feels like we’ve been forgotten about and just told we have to deal with it.

Anonymous

This is my MIQ story.

The last time I saw my mum was xmas 2019 in the UK as she was visiting. My UK partner and I visited NZ in February 2020 to see my dad and sister (mum was working abroad).We returned to the UK as Covid hit. Our original plan was move permanently home to NZ with my partner at the end of 2020, however due to Covid this was delayed. I could have gone in early 2020 before they put the system in placebut I couldn’t leave my partner behind, I wasn’t sure when I would see him again and we still needed to apply for his NZ visa. We had jobs, a cat, a lease on a house we couldn’t just leave, or if was to go I couldn’t just dump that all on my partner. The NZ government advised expats to stay where they were if they could, so we listened. We have lived through 3 lockdowns, 3 waves of Covid, many people dying and getting sick around us. Our mental health suffered, we suffered financially, but we waited. Surely it would be better soon, right? Wrong.

My partner got Covid this year in 2021, we were scared butit was ok, thanks to having had our first vaccine dose. We have our second booked. We have also spent lots of time and money on getting his residency visa for NZ and it has been approved! As well as importing our cat to New Zealand. Our plan to come in November however has been a fail. We waited patiently for the release of MIQ spots and within a few hours they were gone, just like that. Not even following the Twitter bot, downloading a script to auto refresh the page, enlisting the help of an agent who would charge us got us a spot. We are devastated. December hasn’t been released but based on the current trend it is looking highly unlikely we will be home this year. I break down randomly when I think of my family, not seeing them for another year. The funeral of mygrandparent, the birthdays, graduations, etc that I have missed and will continue to miss.

All of this begs the question, if we are vaccinated, and we are doing tests before the flight, can MIQ change? It must, the world is moving forward and it seems NZ is hoping Covid will go away. It won’t, it’s here to stay and at some point, NZ needs to open. I can’t bear not seeing my mum for 2 years in a row but it’s happening. My story is one of many, and I feel guilty feeling sad because I know others in worse positions, with more to lose, with more sacrifices made. I’m absolutely gutted. And we want answers and a plan. Please, remember your citizens. I never thought I wouldn’t be denied entry to my home in my life, but it’s happening right now. :(

Anonymous

Hope you are keeping well, ourselves, Manoj and Ananya (spouse), would like to share our story as we both are Permanent Residents of NZ and went to India in the month of February to attend funeral of my father in law and then got stuck over there until July as Hon PM Jacinda Ardern implemented rule for Permanent Residents that they can't travel directly to NZ from India and need to spend mandatory 14 days in any other country and then be again in MIQ facility for 14 days on own cost too. This has put lot of financial pressure/burden on us as we had to spend huge amount of money on our trip.

On the contrary, Citizens were allowed to travel directly from India to NZ without spending 14 days in any other country saving lots of money.

My concern is the covid virus doesn't know who is Permanent Resident and who is Citizen and has equal capacity to attack both of them then why this discrimination has been made?

And also, we were not able to get MIQ slot as the online system is so weird that it doesn't show any available slots and even if it shows still unable to book the dates we want to travel on and need to refresh the website from day to night so just click, click, all the time. It's so expensive as well to pay $4050 as a couple just for the MIQ room.

I really feel the Government should reduce the price of MIQ facility or at least should pay half the price so as to reduce financial pressure upon us and treat Permanent Residents and Citizens on equal basis as we have the voting rights too.

Hope you understand my pain and agony at this point of time of crisis and raise our voice for something good to happen in near future.

Many thanks

Manoj

Hello.

I  just thought I’d give you a rough idea of my situation.

I’m currently stuck in Sydney NSW waiting trying to relocate back to New Zealand to look after my father after he suffered a stroke.

I’m moving back to be the main carer for him but I can’t seem to get back. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to find MIQ vouchers and flights but it seems almost impossible.

I have sold most of my stuff leaving me with just my suitcase. I have made many, many calls to numerous places to get some kind of info on what to do, but each person I talk to just tells me to sit and wait for flights and vouchers.

I have refreshed and logged into my accounts countless times but still no luck!

I just want to get back to my father because I know he’s not in good health.

Thank you for your time.

Trent

Hi, my name is Karen. I’ll keep it short.

In November 2020 I started looking for a MIQ space as my father was fighting cancer hours and hours of clicking refresh middle of the nights at work before work on and on for months December, January,February, March, April, more and more despairing until the clock ran out and my dad was dead. Too late to say goodbye, too late for a funeral, too late to help my mum.

Honestly, I won’t forgive the only country that I was born in and only country I hold residency and a passport for. I still can’t get in November dates are gone and the bots clean up every new opportunity. There is no system. It is broken.

Karen

Hello.

I’m writing this from the UK. I am a NZ citizen and am completely devastated by the whole situation

I was due to fly on the 23rd of March 2019 to come home for a holiday for first time in 4 years. It was to be the holiday to see if coming home was an option for me. The pandemic had just become “real” and at that time(not that I knew) I had covid19. So I didn’t travel due to feeling so un well, 5 months later I was feeling better and ready to come back…. Then it hit me I couldn’t just get back. Every time I tried it failed and it just became a cycle of constant disappointment.

During this period I have missed 4 weddings, my 30th and my fathers 60th and multiple other big events of my life. I get what they are doing but it is so hard to get any slot ( I’ll go whenever I can) and yet still there’s never ever a slot even when there is one that comes available you need to be online 24/7 to get it.

Rachel

"He waka eke noa" - We are all in this together... but not for New Zealanders living overseas.

I was last in NZ in August 2019 for my mother’s 60th Birthday. I then met my now Partner (who is English), at the start of 2020 when we were thrown into the Pandemics which stopped the world. I hold a wonderful job at St George's, University of London, which is rewarding and stable, it never crossed my mind to move back to my home country where I would have to find a new job, housing and leave my new partner and life behind. 2020 was a rollercoaster for us all and it was discussed as a family that we would all be together for Christmas 2020 in NZ, my sister (who lives in Wellington), was planning a surprise wedding but it soon became apparent that this Pandemic wasn't going anywhere and neither was I. But for everyone's safety, I was okay with this and ended up having a lovely Christmas with Benand a few friends who were also left in London unable to spend the time with family due to a national lockdown here in the UK.

With the news of vaccines being approved and the UK having an actual plan on the rollout, life was looking up! Start of 2021 Ben and I decided we would make the trip back to NZ at the end of 2021 -our relationship had grown and we had discussed where life will take us. Come 2023 I will have been in the UK for 10 years and feel it is time I head home for the next chapter in life, with Ben. This means that we need to fit a trip into NZ before we make the move to live in NZ. With my sister's wedding on hold, it was confirmed in February 2021 they desperately want to get married and contacted us to make sure we would be willing to make the trip out - of course, it was a yes, you do anything for family, right? And as an NZ Citizen, I shouldn't have to justify why I want to come back to my home country.

I have always watched the news with regards to NZ borders and completely agree with the approach of MIQ - it keeps New Zealanders safe and I am 100% for that. BUT there have always been some flaws in the system with not enough spaces and an archaic 'lottery' system of gettinga space. So with this in mind and knowing Ben would need a Visitor’s Visa as a partner of an NZ Citizen we started to plan in February 2021 out how we wouldmake this all happen.

With the wonderful help of an Immigration Advisor, who was able to let us know the requirements for the visa and we were quickly moved into a new flat as you have to be in a 'stable and genuine relationship' and that means living together. Having moved into our new place in March 2021 we would now work with Liza to get all the evidence we need to be able to make an application. Come April 2021, this was all submitted and the waiting game began. It was with delight five weeks later; Immigration New Zealand had approved and Ben has been given entry to NZ - a huge hurdle complete. And please note the INZ has known about the two of us wanting to come into the country - why can this data not be used for entry/MIQ when needed at a later date?

I have been watching EXTREMELY closely at when new dates become available across MIQ and was able to have a practice go back in May when a random date but knew November would be a different story. We were recommended a wonderful Travel Agent, Jeremey Matthews of World TravelMotueka, and it was a safe idea to book flights through a travel agent as they are experienced in which routes are best for London > NZ. He has been a wonderful source of knowledge on not only flights but MIQ booking too.

I have joined multiple Facebook Groups (New Zealand Quarantine, Kiwis Coming Home, MIQ: NZ Managed Isolation) to support Kiwi's getting home so I was up to date as I had learned MIQ just RANDOMLY drop batches of dates and its pure luck if you get told about them through Facebook, travel agent or someone else looking out for you. And of course, the wonderful Clint Herne who runs Kiwis in London - legend!

We woke up on Wednesday, 7 July to learn that dates had been released at 5 am UK time and were gone within minutes. My heart sunk as the realisation of 'I can't get into my own country' had begun to sink in. We are two full time working professionals who are 'tech savvy' yet we spend hours each day refreshing the website, clicking on a date and still not being successful. This is NOT a fair system like they state.

Cheers,

Bryony

For personal reasons I need to get to NZ in a two-week window in October. But I cannot find any spots in MIQ. I have slept about three hours a night the last three nights and spent the rest of my time refreshing, but even in the couple of instances I've 'grabbed' a spot, by the time I get through the Captcha, the spot has gone. I am feeling exhausted, run-down, and it's emotionally draining. Surely there has to be a better way. Look to other countries and how they manage their quarantines. Create a more workable system. Even set up booking a quarantine spot when you book your flight – because you can't have one without the other anyway. What about people who are fully vaccinated – could there not be a multiple-test and self-isolate system for them like there is elsewhere? This MIQ system is adding so much more stress and uncertainty to the bigger reality we're all wrestling with and it needs to change.

Anonymous

We are kiwis living in London with a three-year-old-daughter who hasn’t cuddled her grandparents since she was eight months old. We’ve recently welcomed our twin boys into the world who we would love to take home to meet their family.

We managed to book flights and MIQ for February this year. Months after booking I found out I was pregnant with twins and unable to fly due to high-risk pregnancy. My husband’s Mum had been unwell so we considered him still flying with our daughter, but he didn’t want to leave me while pregnant. We were so gutted to cancel our MIQ slot.

We held our flights and thought we would be able to fly back in November, once the twins were five months old. We had no idea MIQ would become such a nightmare.

Now we’re a family of five we need two MIQ rooms! If I only had one baby we could still have one room. In February the cost for MIQ was $4050, and now it’s $6,675!!! It’s just not affordable for us. We can’t stay in New Zealand to avoid paying as we need to return to work in London.

We just want our parents to have the joy of cuddling their grandchildren. Who knows when we will be reunited at this rate? My husband and I are both double vaccinated and have hope that New Zealand will open up to vaccine passports soon.

Lauren

Hi.

Why can't someone just start a queue?  We don't know how many are waiting or how long the queue is. We don't need to wait for the government.

There must be websites where queue can be hosted?  we need a few bits of data passport number, name, date of entry, other grounds for priority?

As long as there's no orderly queue the government can hide the numbers and wait times.

Regards

Paul

Hello everyone.

We were booked to leave the UK for our holiday on 26 April 2020 and as we all know Covid lockdown was implemented on the 23rd., and so we had to cancel our trip. We decided to see what would happen with Covid and make a new plan.  MIQ was implemented and seemed that bookings were (although infrequent and limited) being released.  My Father passed away at the beginning of March 2021 and even this did not get me into one of the two categories for an emergency allocation. So we had to virtually attend his funeral, which was very hard.  Having seen others in our age group pass away and including other factors, we decided it was time to move back home. This decision was made in April-May and at that point MIQ was publishing available dates and it seemed quite likely that a booking was available even in the worst case with a one-month delay.  So I gave my 2 weeks’ notice to quit my job and also placed the house on the market. I finished working at the start of July, so I am now unemployed, and in 2 weeks’ time the house sale is final, and so we will be homeless. All our possessions will be in transport back to New Zealand except for one suitcase each, and we have no idea for what period of time we will be stuck in limbo. We cannot commit to a furnished property rental due to a six-month minimum contract period (as we have no idea when we might get a MIQ booking).  So we have no choice but to try to find cheap hotels until we get the golden MIQ booking.

So for those complaining about the enforced 2-week hotel stay for MIQ, we will potentially have to spend months doing this.

Since April-May I have been searching the MIQ website multiple times day and night and have not seen any availability.  We fully understand and are very proud of why New Zealand has taken the decision and steps it has to protect the New Zealand public.  However a 2-week quarantine and negative tests provide surety that everyone released from quarantine will not be bringing in this unwanted guest.  So why can they not increase the number of MIQ hotels as this site and many other forums show there is a real need.  MIQ is still stuck in the first come first served method with no triaging of requests, but surely some of us in dire circumstances need and deserve the place more than those who just want a holiday. Covid has unfortunately dragged on long enough that we are at the point that they could (and should) have reviewed the service they were providing and made amendments/improvements as necessary.  At minimum, I would request that they at least keep us informed about what is happening. They are the ones who know what capacity there is, and how many requests they have waiting, therefore calculating an expected wait time. With information, those of us waiting can make educated decisions and would not have to spend allour time refreshing a stupid webpage in the hope that our lives can move forward.  Unfortunately with theever-changing situation in Australia and all our Olympians returning, I live in fear that it might be many months before any bookings are available.

Inside the front cover of our NZ passports there is a statement which includes “allow the holder to pass without delay or hinderance and in case of need to give all lawful assistance and protection”

Bill

Hello.

I'm a Kiwi living in the UK, with my English wife and one year old son.

At the time the pandemic started to takehold my mother-in-law was ill with breast cancer and had recently been given a few months to live. Returning home at that time was out of the question.

My son recently turned one and my parents and grandparents have still not been able to meet him. If they leave to come here, they will need MIQ on return which is now practically impossible to secure. Then there's the cost.

For us to go there isn't viable either. Two weeks in isolation would be my maximum consecutive leave entitlement gone. I'dhave to leave my job with a three-month notice period just to visit. Then there's the cost again; even more prohibitive if unemployed.

The biggest issue though is the MIQ booking system. The abundance of bots, risk of scammers and the lack of availablespaces. Working full time and with a kid to look after I don't have the time tosit refreshing a page for days on end in the hope of lucking out and securing a room.

I'm essentially locked out of my own country. It shouldn't be this way.

I am thankful that there has been something to keep my family, friends and fellow citizens safe. Even though that has been a weight off my mind, it has added plenty more. In its current form it is not working.

My issues with it echo many others but I want to add my voice to this in the hope someone in a position of power mightactually listen and take action.

That's my first issue though - they're not listening. Complaints about the flaws in the booking system made to MPs receivea dismissive response. There's no issue they say. The arrogance is both frustrating and disheartening. Where can we turn?

Emergency allocation isn't working. I've read countless heart-breaking stories of people denied emergency allocation when their circumstances would seem more than worthy to any reasonable human being. It seems you have to get media coverage in order to sway an official even if you're dying. This leaves me feeling hopeless that I would ever be granted a spot. It's a source of great anxiety. I'm despairing but trying to come to terms with the fact that I won't get to be with my nana during her final months, nor will I get to be at her funeral to say goodbye, to be therefor my family, or receive that support in return.

Not only is there no admission of the problems, but there’s also no plan. There's no consistency on policy. The lack of communication around the future of the NZ covid strategy is as astounding asit is frustrating. Supporters are quick to make excuses and say that 'well Covid is unpredictable so how can you plan for it?'. You can certainly plan for potential scenarios; for certain tests to be met. This needs to be open and transparent, and it's long overdue. Especially when citizens and permanent residents are affected so greatly by this. This would be bad from any government, but from a party that promised transparency when elected it is all the more inexcusable. Again I despair.

There's been more than enough time to plan and to take action. Part of the reason for NZ's closing of the borders is the low number of ICU beds. 14 months laterhas the government used the time bought by the border closure and MIQ system to strengthen healthcare resources ready for the inevitable arrival of cases? Barely. They aimed to triple capacity but have fallen short. There are still only around 350 beds nationally.

The border closure is a suitable temporary measure, yet it's evident they're treating it as permanent.

They either don't care or they're incompetent. There’s evidence for both, really.

This is long, but these are the things that I despair over. These are the things that make me feel rejected by my own country. Why I feel hopeless about the possibility of returning. These are things that are causing me anxiety and at times depression.

The system needs to change. There needs to be a flexible plan. There needs to be communication. Offer some hope and govern for all citizens.

Anonymous

Hello.

My family has been separated for 18 months now. A month ago, a border exemption was approved for my husband and four young children. After waiting for so long and hoping that my family is going to be reunited sooner or later...booking MIQ NZ spaces has been a nightmare.  

Anonymous

My name is Ali, I am a New Zealand citizen but have been living in London, UK for three years. I had never planned to be away from home so long, it just happened. 

I never really booked any visits home because I thought it would be pointless as I thought I would be coming home soon anyway. In January 2020, my boss booked me return flights home for April 2020 as they were going home to Australia so they offered me a trip home also. But of course this was when COVID was just starting out, so these got cancelled, I was devastated. 

On December 2018 I met my (now) partner Kevin, we were travelling Vietnam and instantly had an attraction and after fourdays together agreed to meet up when we were back in the UK as he is from Hereford and I was living in London. Long story short we met up when we got back into the UK and have been together since. Ever since the start of our relationship we have talked and dreamed about moving home to New Zealand, about one year into the relationship we start planning and saving for our dream. With Kevin being from the UK we had to apply for a partnership visa; but with this there are a lot of requirements, one being we have to have lived together for 1year, this means we wouldn’t be able to apply until mid-2020, which is when COVID started. So first of all, New Zealand visas weren’t being processed at the time so we couldn’t even apply, when we finally could, we did and we are now waiting to be accepted. 

So here we are nearing the end of 2021,waiting on my partners visa to be accepted. We were hoping to be home by Christmas but seeing the MIQ spots already booked up for the year is devastating. 

We just want to get home and see my family so badly. 

Ali

Hello.

I had a job to start in NZ I’m a NZ citizen. On the 2nd of August I was due to start. I left my career in Sydney after 16 years, packed up my house sold my car and sent the contents by container on the 12th of July. That afternoon my flight was cancelled, I rebooked for the 26th,that was cancelled I rebooked for the 16th of August that hasn’t been cancelled yet but it will as I have no MIQ voucher. I have not been able to get a voucher for quarantine after numerous attempts from way back in July. Air NZ initially said I didn’t need one as it was included in my ticket? Air New Zealand has taken days to respond and often only sent me extracts of covid websites to read followed by a survey? I contacted the consulate same thing, nothing no service just a referral back to a covid website? There is no customer service at all, I often typed hello -hello? After waiting for hours at a time - only to have to start all over again with booking references- I have waited days to get help and received none the responses I did get were like algorithms not personal just rubbish. No phone calls were answered by Air New Zealand. No Twitter response. Citizenship means nothing.

Wendy

My circumstance:

- I live in Singapore and am fully vaccinated

- My vaccinated grandmother in NZ is 93 andin ill health

- My vaccinated step father in NZ has been diagnosed and battling with terminal cancer, he was given 4 months to live a year ago and is really struggling to outlive that prognosis

- I do not wish to abuse the system nor take up a spot in quarantine unnecessarily. I am desperate to see my family and I know I'm on borrowed time with regards to seeing my family members who are old and sick

All the slots are frequently taken in MIQ for the whole booking window and are also prohibitively costly

My proposed solution: 

- Proposal: Trial a short term return initiative for proven vaccinated NZ citizens, where, if their family are proven vaccinated, they can quarantine from home after: 

- a pre-departure clearance in a well-regulated country with aligned covid test protocols

- an on-arrival clearance (generally around 3 days) with the citizen in MIQ for that period

- Outcome: Better flow of citizens, less pressure on MIQ, reduced costs for citizens and fairer treatment of citizens abroad

- Rationale: The govt already established a workable open/shut country movement scenario for Australians. You could open this up as a test case specifically for Kiwis abroad. There is also a proven case for this in other countries, such as the Singapore - Brunei corridor.

Thanks,

Meredith

Kia ora.

This is my story, perhaps different from others as I live here in New Zealand but need to travel and cannot do so without a n MIQ space secured to return.

I'm an Irish woman with full citizenship living in New Zealand for 12 years now with four beautiful littlies.

My world got turned upside down a little over 4 weeks ago now when my wonderful sister in Dublin was diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastases to the lungs, spine, liver and brain. She has a few short months if that left - she is 53.

I desperately want to go and hold her hand to say my goodbyes. I applied for a space on a compassionate basis with MIQ, I was told I would need accompanying documentation which would indicate timeframes.

I contacted my sister’s oncologist who provided me with a letter detailing her diagnosis and prognosis.

My reality is because I would need to leave my 4 young children here with my husband, and with the need for 14 days in MIQ, I can only look at 7/10 days at home with my sister but anytime at all with her would be better than none. My husband would have to take leave from work as we have no family support here. I cannot leave without a return space secured as I can't leave my children indefinitely.

I asked/begged for a space in August or September by which time I will have had both my vaccinations but my request was turned down with a very indifferent response which has obviously been copied and pasted many, many times.

I don't believe the letter from my sister’s oncologist which broke my heart to ask for was even looked at. I have since been advised that they work on a tick box system and if you fail to meet one of the criteria your request immediately fails. I believe I failed because I would not be ready to travel within 14 days.

In the last week I have met two others in the same position one desperately trying to travel to Europe to see his dying mother and the other to the UK to see her dying sister. One of them was told by MIQ last week there was nothing that can be done, the letter from the oncology team is of no help, there is no point calling and he is one of many and was advised to simply checking the MIQ system to see if a space becomes available.

I wonder where 'be kind' comes into this there is no empathy, kindness or compassion with an automated response or being told you're basically just a number.

The cruellest thing here is that spaces can be found for the Wiggles, Amazon and Lion King production staff who are not citizens and are not facing the prospect of never seeing their loved ones again.

Also, being told there are empty rooms not being utilised is simply brutal.

I will like so many others continue to spend hours each day clicking refresh on the booking system praying for a miracle when all there ever is is months totally greyed out.

I don't have months and waiting on the December allocation to be released is of no use, my sister does not have the luxury of time.

I believe I will have to reconcile myself with never seeing my sister again. I have spent weeks tripping up over tears and my own health has suffered as a result of the stress.

I wonder if in years to come those in charge of the decisions surrounding the allocations and how they are managed will lose sleep for those of us left with broken hearts.

This is simply my story there are so many others in the same position and indeed worse. This is life in Covid times and for now we will live our lives pressing refresh and simply being thankful that we can actually see our loved ones on Skype or speak to them on the phone if we cannot touch them in person to tell them just how much we love them one last time.

Anonymous

Hello.

I live in New Zealand but my eldest daughter lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. We are both citizens. In April 2020 she was supposed to get married but lockdowns and border closures put an end to that. The same happened again in April 2021. The ray of hope for us was she had a little girl by caesarean two weeks ago. However the joy of this little miracle has been overshadowed by MIQ.

A friend of mine in May managed without hassle to attend her father's death bed and funeral and to get a spot in MIQ soI thought it would be as simple and easy for me as she did not request an exemption. In June horror stories about the MIQ system and no places being available started being highlighted. I registered on the site and it is fully booked until 12th December.  I have since spent hours on it.

The MIQ programme is totally NOT user friendly and I constantly have to prove I am not a robot when it is well known more advanced programmes are snapping up any vacant places at an exorbitant price which would add to the cost of the whole travel experience if I knew how to even employ these services. The system also repeatedly logs users out and once when a space showed up as beingfree, i clicked on it and was logged out. The system has an emotional as well as a manpower cost as I spend hours on it when I am not working trying to secure a place.

There was a news report on one of the news channels where two expatriates complained about the system and one queried why if expatriates had been vaccinated the system couldn't be changed to test for Covid before their flight and on arrival in New Zealand. His idea was supportedby an epidemiologist who said this would keep New Zealand safe and solve the problem of congestion on the MIQ system. This expatriate also spoke about how spending two weeks in MIQ added to the expense of his visit to see his relatives because he had to take unpaid leave and pay for MIQ as well as his air fare. If I travel over and can't get back in then I lose my earning power and the government loses out on the taxes I pay. I am desperate to meet my grandchild and to be there to help my daughter who is homesick but at this stage if I go there is absolutely no guarantee I will be able to get back in. To compound the problem my 92-year-old father is dependent on me and if I go and can't get back in the MIQ system means I have to decide who needs the most support. But if the MIQ system was fair and efficient I wouldn't be in this predicament.

I was persuaded to have my vaccinations by the government's expensive vaccination programme so why do they not have faithin these vaccinations keeping New Zealand safe? Chris Hipkins and Jacinda Ardern are evasive when questioned about MIQ and say they are following advice from experts. I wish they would try out the MIQ programme to see how frustrating it is to use and how heart-breaking it is not to be able to visit loved ones. The government also prides itself on caring about New Zealanders' well beingbut most people's wellbeing is aligned with being able to visit or spend time with whanau and this broken MIQ system is not resonating or aligning with the policy of being "kind". It is completely the opposite and is brutally cruel.

I sincerely hope the collective voices of ordinary Kiwi citizens are heard through this action. Rugby teams, entertainment shows like the Wiggles and film production units have been privileged over New Zealanders and ordinary people have had enough of their needs being overlooked.

Kind regards

Marian

Hi there,

My story is from last December. It seems they still can’t get their sh*t together!

I had initially booked my flights and MIQ on the day MIQ was announced, all was fine until Cathay cancelled the first leg of my flight. I could not get another flight to match up with my leg into NZ sore booked an emirates flight to arrive within an hour of my original flight (not cheap).

I spoke to someone at MIQ on the phone who said they can definitely change it as long as it’s within the same day and to email flight changes, no problem, I then went through days of emailing flight changes and them flat out refusing to change the voucher and telling me this was not at all possible.

I had to purchase another round of flights to get back on CX113 (which was a complete dog leg journey) after doing so, weeks later someone from MIQ emailed me and changed me on to the emirates flight number - which was ridiculous given what I had just been through and having been told outright it was not possible. This caused more panic as I thought they wouldn’t let me change it back again, this then happened another three more times before I left.

Anna

Hello.

I am a New Zealand citizen and I live in the Netherlands with my Dutch husband who I met in London eight years ago. I have lived in Holland for five years now, and we have been married for two. Two long years since I last saw my parents, at our wedding in 2019. They live in Hamilton, New Zealand, where I also grew up.

I fell pregnant in June 2020 and was excited about the prospect of introducing my baby to my parents, who planned to visit as soon as he was born. With no sign of covid getting under control and New Zealand shutting its borders, we soon realized it would be a long while yet before my parents (now in their 70s) would be able to get to the Netherlands. So we investigated how we could visit New Zealand to take our new-born son to visit his grandparents instead. In February, we began the process of creating an account to book a quarantine spot, and diligently clicked on the calendar to reserve any date that would pop up. We’d click and click to no avail. We tried for a solid month refreshing the page every three seconds until it crashed…to book any spot for our family. Nothing worked. This caused me massive anxiety and stress in the last stages of pregnancy, longing for the support and company of my parents as I was about to birth our first child.

The thought of a two-week hotel quarantine with a new-born wasn’t something we were excited about but we were prepared todo anything to see my parents and spend a few months with them while I was on maternity leave anyway.

Unfortunately, that dream came crashing to an end rather suddenly when it dawned on us that the system was set up to fail us, and countless other Kiwis, from booking a spot successfully and returning ‘home.’ After scanning the internet and reading other people’s stories of desperation to return to New Zealand to receive serious medical treatment, tend to sick family members, funerals, exit their host country due to visas expiring, I was filled with guilt that I would be taking a spot from someone who might have needed it more than me and somewhat gave up on booking MIQ after months of trying.

In April, I had a traumatic birth and required weeks of medical attention, without the help and support of my mother who I longed to have by my side.

Since having my son, I have had to deal with feelings of loneliness, anger, frustration, and abandonment … abandonment from the New Zealand government who have let me down. We would have been prepared for whatever it took (quarantine, isolation, health checks etc.) but it wasn’t an option anyway. My parents have missed out on meeting their grandson. He doesn’t know or recognize them; the time difference makes it difficult for any real relationship to be established long distance. How old will he be when they get to meet him? Will both my parents still be alive when we are finally able to reunite? (My father is in bad health).

When will these feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, anger and sadness pass? When will I be able to see my parents and family again? What is the plan? All of us (including my parents) have now been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer jab. Please consider the citizens of your country, including the forgotten citizens who don’t currently live in NewZealand … but might return someday.

Kate

Hi there, here is my story of trying to get home to NZ.

I am a Kiwi currently living in London. I met and married an English man in New Zealand and we finally made the decision to move to London and explore and travel. We had about a year in London before the pandemic hit. 

I have been trying to get home to New Zealand for the last year with no luck. I have missed the birth and the first birthday of my nephew; I've missed three important births and now currently missing helping my grandma while she has been losing her eye sight and moving into a rest home. 

It’s my niece’s birthday in January and my cousin is getting married in February, I am desperately trying to get home. I am not wishing to miss anymore family events. The lack of being able to plan and have the freedom to go home is playing largely on my mental health. When moving to London I never thought I would be away from New Zealand so long. I am in a lucky spot I guess as due to being married to a UK citizen means I have been able to extend my visa and right to work here in the UK. 

I currently log in to MIQ multiple times per day and try to find a spot with no luck. I am a week away from getting my second vaccine and hope to hear this will help me go home. 

Anonymous

I am a New Zealand citizen living abroad in France with my Italian husband. We normally come back to New Zealand every summer (pre covid) to spend some much-needed time with my family.

We have been through a very rough year and a half over here in France - as have many. Our business has been struggling big time due to Covid and we have had many failed attempts with IVF. Doing this all without seeing any family members or being able to step foot in New Zealand due to restrictions has been really, really tough for me.

Luckily, I finally did get pregnant and am due in December so my mother is supposed to come over to France for the birth and help me afterwards. Adding to the pressure that she is taking time off work (as a much needed midwife in an understaffed hospital) and paying a fortune in flights to quarantine on return she actually may not even get a spot due to what seems to be a “lottery system” for quarantine. We are going to have to pay someone that can stay on the computer 24-7 to look for a spot in January as weall work and do not have the time to look for a spot that may or may not appear!! The borders may as well be closed completely as it is really that difficult fo get a spot in quarantine. The lack of clarity from the government in to when they will release spots makes it agonizingly extra stressful andt ime consuming!!

My story is nowhere near as tragic as what some people are going through (I cannot even imagine and my heart aches for these people). But in my small situation, I personally do not know what I would do if I did not have a family member here giving birth. It is isolating enough not having any family members here in France but especially with a new-born baby.

I find the quarantine booking system/border situation absolutely inhumane. The New Zealand population in general seems to be proud of and happy with how the situation is being handled with Covid but as a New Zealander living overseas, I am anything BUT proud to tell people here in Europe that I might not be able to see my family for another year or two due to the draconian border restrictions New Zealand has taken.

I really hope some changes will be made. Maybe more spaces made available and a better booking system or better getting New Zealanders vaccinated faster and eventually easing the border restrictions. But judging from the frequent comments from New Zealanders in the quarantine groups or even the news, I won’t hold my breath!

Kia kaha

Anonymous

We have lived in the UK for the last twenty years. We had always planned on returning to NZ this year all Covid has done for us is reinforce our decision to leave.

In March last year we travelled to NZ for what was supposed to be a four week holiday, the plan was to find a house to give us a place to move home too. Five days after we arrived in NZ the whole country went into lockdown. 2 months later the whole world had changed, we found ourselves reassessing what our priorities were. So eleven weeks, later we returned to the UK to sell up and move home for good.

Things took a while to get moving, it took us until December 2020 to find a buyer for our house and we didn't complete until the end of March 2021.

At this point we had all our belongings put into storage and moved into a house with our Son and began the most frustrating and time consuming waste of my life that i have ever encountered before, TRYINGTO BOOK A MIQ SPOT.

Apart from when i am at work i spend Hoursand hours of every day of the week refreshing a page on a NZ government website, thanks Jacinda. I genuinely thought that we might have been able toget a spot by now and be on our way home. I even had a job to go too if i could get back to NZ by the start of May, Needless to say, the end of May came and went , no job to go to. Here we are at the end of July, still no MIQ spot and no spots available right through until the end of November. In the meantime, i am paying rent on a house, paying a removal company to store my furniture and every month that i wait the cost of the shipping goes up &up. We feel homeless and abandoned, every day is Groundhog Day. WHEN WILL IT END. 

How hard would it be to create a list? Why must it be a lottery? Surely we should be able to join the queue? 

At least then we would know a time or a date that we would be released from this pointless existence.

Maybe we will get a spot next year.

Mark

I'm an international seafarer and work a 60 day on and 60 day off rotation. I attempt to secure and pay for MIQ slot every 120 days.

My employer isolates everyone before we join the ship in a quarantine facility, we have 3 PCR tests prior to joining the ship, we have daily health monitoring for the whole trip.

I have a pre travel PCR test, often multiple depending on how long it takes to get back to New Zealand.

My work is considered essential service installing infrastructure, I am fully vaccinated and only, I am a New Zealand citizen living in Northland.

Due to the lack of MIQ I am often being stuck overseas or onboard the vessel which can impact my back-to-back worker a she can't join the vessel until I'm off.

Regards,

Lawry

Hi

I had to come over to England at the end of February for my sick dad. He passed away at the beginning of March.

I have been trying to get back to New Zealand since May. I have checked every day/night spent hours refreshing the MIQ page hoping that a date would become available. Nothing changed no new dates come up. All I can see that's happened is they have upgraded their bullshit page trying to make us all feel better.

I understand the isolation but why has no extra isolation been made available to us for Christmas. Why is it ok to let kiwis in oz come home on special flights straight into isolation. But nothing for the rest of us.

It's been the hardest time for me since losing my dad, all my family is in New Zealand I'm doing this on my own & it's really hard.

Mel

My husband (British) and I would love to take our 18-month-year-old to meet her grandparents, aunties and uncles. But the reality is that it’s just not possible for us to do so. We can only have three weeks off work max so would have to leave NZ after a few days out of MIQ to travel home. Then there is isolation itself, two adults and two children (Three and 18-months old) in one room for two weeks, with only limited exercise in the morning and afternoon. It’s just not feasible for us.

I’ve seen menu choices for kids at one hotel and it changed each day between fishand chips and chicken nuggets and chips…. I’m sorry but that is appalling. It’s been two years since I’ve seen my family and they have seen our kids…

We used to take turns and travel between each country twice a year. Don’t even get me started on trying to book an MIQ spot. I wish it was more accessible for people especially who are double vaccinated so we could go to what we call home and isolate with our family at least. Our family is missing out on precious memories with relatives who may not be around for much longer.

Rachel

Hi. I’ve been planning to return home to New Zealand permanently since January. I’ve been in UK for twenty years but due to health issues in the family I want to be home. My mother will be ninety-five years old in December, my sister has terminal cancer, my brother has just suffered a heart attack and my other sister diabetic and awaiting knee surgery.

I need to sell my flat. And so I’m now looking at moving into a van in case I can't get a spot before I have sold the flat. It’s very hard to plan for the logistics of a return without being able to secure a date. I’ve been looking and trying to book (whilst working) since May.

I cannot spend 24/7 refreshing the MIQ page. A stream system for returners would make more sense, build profile questions into profile algorithm and let that prioritise returnees on circumstances, urgency (expired visas) and prioritise by length of time registered and the dates they'd like. People will request different dates for different reasons. I need to be able to plan ahead, but also don't want to wait forever on a hope I'll happen to be awake when they release dates! May the odds be ever in your favour!

Anonymous

My son Tim is a citizen, and it is his fiancée Shama who is trying to get an MIQ slot. They were engaged in July 2019 after a distance relationship of a few months. It took many months for Immigration to approve and grant a Culturally Arranged Marriage Visa.

At the time the rules were such that to be able to get this visa, the wedding had to take place here in New Zealand. During those days, many were bending the rule and getting married overseas. But Tim and Shama bent over backwards to have the wedding happen in New Zealand. The big fat Indian wedding was scheduled for 18 April 2020. The bride's family in India and their friends from Australia were coming over. Everything was booked.

The pandemic became a real thing, and when it was evident that our plans were changing, we tried to get Shama in earlier. Her flights were brought forward, and in spite of that she missed the border closure by three days. THREE DAYS!! Her clothes and other personal items had already been sent over by cargo. My son had signed a rental contract for a house. You can imagine the shock and sadness we experienced at the time and the financial drain that the rental was on my son who continued to stay in ourhome. Anyway that is all in the past.

Tim and Shama tried to keep their spirits up. I know that Tim was often becoming depressed. Their lives were on hold. Shama wrote a piece just as the wedding date of 18 April 2020 passed, and I published it in my blog.

https://couragetotremble.blog/2020/04/19/the-wedding-day/

Then more recently this year, on the second anniversary of meeting Tim for the first time, she posted a piece in her blog.

https://sukanyabhave.wordpress.com/2021/07/07/on-this-day/

Her visa expired in May 2020 and after that the initial struggle was to get another visa. That struggle is another huge story, which we won't go into now. In June 2021, to our delight, she was granted the visa, after we approached our local MP Arena Williams.

Initially, we were told that she would have to spend 14 days in another country, and after much hesitation from her dad and Tim's dad, we arranged for her to come here via Serbia. But much to our relief, we we're told that she would be considered as Tim's partner, and she would be allowed to enter directly.

For the last four weeks we have been looking for MIQ slots.

Shama puts in many hours at her end, and then we in NZ take over. During the holidays, I have asked my little twelve-year old great niece to work at it for a couple of hours as her fingers are more nimble. I am at it for hours too. And then Shama takes over. And so we have manned this post almost 24/7.

We see the black dates come up about once every hour or so. I think you have to claim it in about 4 secs. Something like that.

The steps are like this:

1. Refresh the screen. The screen openswith the months open at July.

2. Click to change the months, looking tosee if any of the dates are black.

3a. IF YOU SEE A BLACK DATE

Click the black date, check the reCAPTCHAbox and click Next. Three things can happen:

3b1. You get the slot. I cannot describe that as I have not experience it.

3b2. You get thrown back to the same 'months' screen. You may try to submit again and you'll get an 'invalidre CAPTCHA' error, which is probably just an unprofessional way of being told that you have failed. Repeat steps 1-3.

3b3. You get a proper message telling you that you have not been allotted a slot. Repeat steps 1-3.

3b. IF YOU DO NOT SEE A BLACK DATE (which is 99% of the time):

Refresh, ensuring that about seven seconds have elapsed since the previous refresh. If you do not allow for the 7 secs, you will be locked out of the site for a wee while with a '403 Forbidden' error.

Repeat steps 1-3.

So let's say dates are snapped up in 4seconds (just an arbitrary number), the chance of you refreshing just when a date is released is about one in seven.

And then you have to see the black date quickly, tick the reCAPTCHA box, and click Next.

The chances of making it in 4 secs are extremely slim. But it is still in the realm of possibility. And with 100s trying, someone always wins, like in a lottery, and the administration probably think that the system is working beautifully, drip feeding people into their system.

But at the other end are human beings who have various reasons for coming into New Zealand.

In our case, I feel very sorry that instead of welcoming a young bride into our home, we are having to tell her to go through this horrible process. It is sad and undignified, almost like we are beggars scrambling all over a dirty pavement, straight out of the Charles Dicken's era, for some coins thrown by a cruel child, a few at a time. And who is to say that the beggar I am fighting with is not more needy than me.

The scary thing is that Shama's visa expires in March. We have seen Immigration return and refund thousands of applications recently. So if the visa expires, it may be another very long wait.

Nahomi

I am writing for my daughter and me too. This may be a little disjointed but hope you can follow.

I have stage four pancreatic cancer with metastatic tumours now in my lungs. I spent most of last year having chemo. Stopping in February this year to give my body time to try and recover some, from nerve damage caused by the chemotherapy. I am heading back into chemo again in December with the last hope of chemo. My life expectancy is not good.

Anyway. My daughter is married and lives in Canada. She has three very young children aged four, two and six months. She and her husband were unable to come home last year due to COVID restrictions and she was pregnant.

They now want to come home to be here for 5months to be here to help while I am going through chemo and spend some time for the children to get to know me. This will probably be my last Christmas.

We have been trying to get MIQ for them since November was released.  We have the harder task as there are five of them (no consideration for three of them being under five years old). Since there are five of them they need two rooms. Don't get me started on the cost of MIQ.

I sit on the MIQ site during our days and they sit on it during their days. Just no luck..ever.

My son-in-law is a policeman and has taken leave so that they can be here for me, but he has to be back at work at the end of May 2022.

So if they can't come now, I won't see them again.

I just don't know what to do next. 😢

Nyree

Kia ora.

I have lived in NZ for 20 years (from US). I moved here as I fell in love with a Kiwi and have called NZ my home ever since. While I have been here, I have lost both parents in the US, and have celebrated the birth of 2 granddaughters. I have 2 sons that I adore and are the dearest people in my life.  Living away from my family and friends has been difficult and although I have many people in NZ that I call friends, none of them are even close to the friendships that I have had in America.

The last time I saw them was nearly 2 years ago. At that time I helped wean my 6-month-old granddaughter to a bottle so her mum could get back to work. We celebrated and never in my wildest dreams did I think I wouldn't be there for her first birthday.  We have all lost some pieces of our lives that we will never regain. That bond between families, the physical presence with which relationships are built has been irreparably altered. I don't know my 2-year-old and my 7 year old is changing so quickly and I am not there to support them. This pandemic has affected us all and we simply have to accept that.

I am one of the few on this FB page that seemingly is in NZ and making a decision to go to America because my heart is breaking. I have lost people this year that I will never see again as so many have. It is painful to hear people judging others for travelling out of NZ when so many want to get back to NZ to be with their families. My reason for travelling is to be with my family. To see the people I love and to support them through what has been a difficult time for them. Somehow there seems to be a disconnect between Kiwis coming home to see family and Kiwis leaving to see family. This is about family and seeing our loved ones after nearly 2 years of heartbreak. And it is about people that call NZ home coming back to their homes.

My son tried to come here to be with meearly on and was advised that he has no credible connection to NZ therefore would not be allowed in.  It was the start of the pandemic and we understood the restrictions, but to be told he had no significant connection to NZ was one of the most hurtful things you can imagine. He needed his mum.  Our government (one I fully supported and continue to) likes to pretend that they have kindness as a backdrop to all of this but I have found no kindness in anyof this.

I wish to travel in September and purchased a one-way ticket to USA.  I had no idea when I booked that flight that there was an issue with MIQ lodging...you set up an account and per their pages the next step is to "secure your allocation".  What a dreadful several days followed when I was awake nearly 24/7 trying to find a room. I have nearly given up but am committed to seeing my family. I need to be back to work mid-December so others can take the holidays off and I can work through it.  Seemed like such a simple idea. I never would have imagined such a horrible system could have been developed andone that doesn't take into account the vaccine status of those looking to comeback into NZ. I am angry that the subtle (or not so subtle) messages around Covid and vaccines are insidiously discouraging people from being vaccinated. Things like "you can still get infected " and "you can stillpass it", "we need 90% vax rate or it won't matter"...without context sounds very much like there is no point in being vaccinated.... we will never achieve 90% in NZ.

The lack of priority around getting the NZ population fully vaccinated has been alarming. Using MIQ instead of an early roll out of vaccines has put NZ in a very precarious position, and we now rely on MIQ heavily.  I am happy to isolate, I am vaccinated and I am smart and responsible. And I am angry and sad. This has last 18 months has taken it's toll on my health well being, but this last 2 weeks (trying to get a space in MIQ) has been disheartening, depressing and I am certain has taken it's toll on my physical health with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and overwhelming sadness. I haven't had abreak in 18 months. I need my family. If I can't get back in early December I will let my work colleagues down and that is not a fair trade. I'm angry and tired.

I think this has become a bit of a ramble so I hope that you can find some useful threads here for your korero. I am assuming that you will not use names from anyone that you choose to quote.

Ngā mihi,

Kim

I just want to come home.

I am a New Zealander living in Portugal with my 18-month-old son and my husband who is Portuguese. Apart from my mum, who visited not long after my baby was born, my family has never met my son. My dad has never met his grandson and my little boy only knows that his Nanny and "Kogo" (koro) appear on a screen when we call them. In the last two years since I was able to visit New Zealand. I have had two nieces born and missed countless other special family occasions. My brother is getting married in December and we were really hoping to make it home for this.

We had planned on coming back last year but had flights cancelled.  I'm currently trying to book spots for November but I have not seen any MIQ spaces and I check at least 20 times a day. My husband is a software developer and could programme a bot if he wanted to but we do not believe this is ethical and is not how the system should work.

There has to be a better way. There has to be a way of getting families back together. We would take a horrendous 28hours’ worth of flights and pay a fortune to spend two weeks locked in a hotel room with a toddler if it just meant we could all be with each other in person. That would be priceless.

Mary

I’ve worked overseas for 20 years. My husband is British and our kids were born overseas.

We decided to move our family home to New Zealand permanently. We have given notice on our apartment and jobs. My husband has secured a job starting in January.

We are now worried we will be stuck in Singapore with no apartment, no income and my husband will have to relinquish a really great job in NZ, just because of a really disorganised quarantine system. It is really disrupting people's lives and long-term plans/finances.

Kylie

I am a 36 year old with a PhD in a highly specialised field who has been working abroad for almost 7 years. In October of 2020, I was offered a job back home in NZ, the same week I received an unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer (I was fit and healthy, with no family history). I had to turn down the job, and commence my cancer treatment straight away. I resigned from my job this year hoping to return home to be with family and start my career a fresh in NZ, however my treatment (partially due to delay scaused by the pandemic and partially because some of the drugs are not funded in NZ) is longer than I thought, and so I am currently cobbling together a living on a number of temporary jobs. I am planning to return home in January2022, but am absolutely terrified that I won't be able to get home. This will leave me stranded without permanent work, a husband whose work visa depends on me, and a young baby. Not only have I had to endure cancer treatment alone and in a pandemic, our baby has not had the chance to meet any family. It's all just rather bad luck, and poor timing. I urge kiwis to remain compassionate. It can be really jarring to read comments about those of us who should "suck it up" because "we made our choice" to move overseas. People have lots of reasons for moving overseas for a period of time, people's circumstances change, and people have bad luck. We're all in this together.

Anonymous

I had my flight booked to come home to NZ in September 2020, I booked my flight in December 2019 before Covid hit.  By May 2021 my September flight was cancelled. It took three months to get my £1200 back. Then I booked another flight November 2020 that to was cancelled. Then I booked another for February 2021 that was also cancelled. I spoke with Air NZ after the 3rd flight cancellation and they told me more and more flights were being cancelled. I told the lady at Air NZthat I had been given notice from NHS that I could get vaccine on the March this year, she told me that would give me a better chance and to wait for the 2 vaccines and then rebook. Well here I am, jabbed up and still trying to get a MIQ space. I was trying for November or even December, I’ve taken a part time job to pay the rent until a spot is available as I need to give them three months’ notice to leave. My emotions are all over the place, at times I wake up in the middle of the night terrified I’ll never see my son in Auckland again. I am in my 70’sand should be retired and despairing of getting home.  Now, seemingly if I pay $£ to a Bot or scammer I have a chance of either a space or losing my money or my identity. I’m desperately trying to learn new IT skills to increase my speed in a ‘Race for Space’ I’m not holding out my chances. What on earth has NZ come to?

Philomena

I am a Kiwi living in The Netherland for the past 11 years. I have a husband and two small children (1.5 and 3.5). Unfortunately, my mother has been diagnosed with MSA-C, a terminal illness where all muscle function deteriorates rapidly.

My parents were lucky enough to make one last trip to Europe just before Covid hit to meet my youngest child when she was born but since then we haven't seen them.

My mother's illness is now getting so bad that she's getting to the stage that she can barely talk anymore. This in itself is heart-breaking, but also being separated from her is so difficult.

After tossing up all the pro's and con's I have decided to bite the bullet and do the time (MIQ). This means that I will be away from home and my very small children for a whole month but only have 10days with my parents due to MIQ. It's heart-breaking either way because it goes against all my mother instincts to leave my children behind for so long. It also seems unfair and unnecessary to put fully vaccinated people in MIQ for 14days when also testing negative numerous times. Why is the self-isolation at home not an option? Under strict rules it should be an available option. I am willing not to leave the house, not see any friends just to spend time with my parents. Surely the risk of this for the community is so limited?

The option of bringing my two small children through MIQ with me is not an option for me because I feel that it is too traumatic for them to be confined to a small hotel room without understanding the reason why. Even though my mother would love to see her grandchildren I feel that such a trip is too much for such small children.

Bianca

I am a Dutchie. I lived in Tauranga for twenty beautiful years. My two children (kiwis) are still living with their father in NZ.

I left in 2016 after my marriage broke down. I was longing to go back to my roots. Having to leave my children behind was the hardest thing I ever had to do. 😞

In 2018 I went back for a trip to see the kids, promising them next time they will come and see me in The Netherlands!! But then covid - 19 came around the corner. There was no way of them coming over. Now, three years, I still haven't seen my babies!! I have decided to fly to NZ in December, but the stress levels are so high.

Finding a place in MIQ won't be easy and am so scared I miss out on a spot.

I have booked a flight already, now waiting for December release MIQ.

Every day I keep a close eye on the website. I am so very stressed about this all, desperate to go to my second home.

Nina

On the 29th of Jan 2021, my father-in-law passed away suddenly from a stroke. He was a healthy 52-year-old with no prior medical conditions. My father-in-law lived in India with my mother in law. My husband is their only son. They have no other children. As a result of the death, my husband had to fly to India immediately to attend the funeral and to be with his mother who was in a complete shock. After sorting out mine and our daughter’s visa, we also joined him to be with the family. At the time, the situation in India covid wise was under control.

Unfortunately, as the cases increased, the world locked up India in its own bubble and were unable to travel back to New Zealand. We lost our MIQ spot and were not offered a replacement one. The government abandoned us and left us alone to fend for ourselves during a time in which India was experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises it had faced since its independence. My husband ended up getting sick with the disease back in April and it took him weeks to recover.

We managed to book a spot in MIQ in September (I was lucky enough to find it back in May). We booked our return trip with Emirates. Everything was looking good and the cases in India have dramatically dropped, particularly in Delhi where we live. One would expect the travel restriction to ease but sadly Emirates still has a ban on transit from India. This ban has been in place since April and gets extended every time close to the ban end date. At the moment, the ban is there till 1st of August, but its highly likely to be extended again. The uncertainty of the situation is driving us insane. We are sitting here with no work, my daughter (6 year old) has missed out on her second year of schooling and my husband lost his job. We had to give up our rental property in Auckland as we could not afford to keep paying rent for a house there while we did not live in it or know when we can go back to it. Our lives are literally on hold.

To make matters worse, Qatar airways can take us back to New Zealand from Delhi as we are 3x citizens so the 14-day rule of staying in a green zone country does not apply to us. But sadly, no Qatar flight does not arrive to Auckland on our MIQ date.

I emailed EMBI to change my MIQ date by one day so we can book with Qatar and come home and they refused. So now, our fate is literally with the UAE government. This does not sit well with me as I want to be back in New Zealand as soon as possible so currently I am in the process of arranging a 14 day stay in Maldives so we can then transit through Dubai if the ban extends beyond our flight date. This situation as you would expect is costing us thousands of dollars, in addition the stress and anxiety of having to drag my family to a foreign country which we have never been to before for 2weeks before we can go home.

The NZ government abandoned all citizens and residents stuck in India during a time in which other countries were sending repatriation flights to get their people out. They refuse to help us with MIQ spots and they continue to deny us the right to return home by not allowing us to get MIQ when we need it. My mental health has deteriorated so bad, my daughter is almost anorexic now because she is missing my family in Auckland and all of her friends, she refuses to eat food here and just wants to go back home.

The government was quick to help everyone in NSW who went to holiday to have fun during a global pandemic but they never gave a toss about us. My story is one of many, there are other New Zealand citizens here and permanent residents who are simply stuck and can’t return,some of which have been here for over 2 years.

Anonymous

My son William is stuck in China. He really wants to come home. We’ve been trying for over a month to get an MIQ place.

He thinks he will now pay someone to refresh for 48 hours to get a slot. Why oh why did they not have a wait lists ystem? You register, say dates you could manage (re flights) and you go into a ladder system for all those dates. You move up the ladder as places are allocated. So much fairer than it is now. Some people are taking spaces to just come back for one Xmas week. What about people wanting to re-join their family for good?

Lesley

I’m from Brazil and It’s been 6 and a halfyears I’ve been living in New Zealand. I came with a friend to study and one year after I arrived, I met my husband.

My mom has been here twice and my dad once (for my wedding, which was in 2019). Since I got pregnant my mom felt quite upset that she could not be here sharing the moment with me. Though we always had a difficult relationship.

I was just fine until I gave birth. I was so overwhelmed, the sleepless nights, the puerperium, the lack of time to cook, shower or anything. My husband was very helpful, but he was tired as well. Now you know, it was our first child!

My husband parents are here. But, not only was I missing my family for obvious reasons, the difference of cultures, was something for me too. The way we approach things, how close we are… Also, my inlaws all work, so we ended up doing it all by ourselves. We have no Village here. Friends were giving us space, when we actually needed help - that adds up to the culture thing as well, back home people would just turn up with food, checking on us.

It is so devastating not to have support from the most important people in my life, not knowing when they are gonna be ableto meet each other. For sure, both, my mom and dad would be here if it wasn’t for covid. I never missed them so much since I got here in New Zealand.

Sylvia

I (American) moved to Auckland in 2016 to be with my Aussie partner. We travelled back and forth to the USA to be with my family when we could, at least twice a year and thought that would likely be our pattern. We found out I was pregnant in September 2019 and organized for family to come near the due date (May/June 2020). After the borders shut, we knew we would likely be on our own with our baby girl. Even after she was born(via emergency c-section) my partner was not allowed to stay in the hospital while we were under level 3. So I was on my own, headed into motherhood, recovering from a traumatic c-section with a newborn and no support. I was notable to drive for 3 months after she was born and had no family support on either side and a limited social circle. We struggled for months on no sleep, praying and hoping we would be able to travel home when it was safe enough. I was extremely burnt out and my husband suffered a back injury that made it difficult for him to work or even move properly. In April of 2021 we started to look at flights back to the USA but two separate flights were cancelled and money held up by airlines. We finally booked a new flight for August this year, after my daughter had turned one, and waited a few weeks to book the MIQ spot for our return in Nov (as Oct had sold out and we lost our spot when the flights got cancelled). When Nov opened up for MIQ it was gone in about an hour and I was working so I missed our chance. Now, we spend HOURS a day trying to grab one of the spots that pops up, but obviously cannot beat the bots.

It is heart-breaking enough to not be able to celebrate our daughter's first year with family, and have them meet their first grandchild, first niece, firstgreat-granddaughter. But to go on to spend precious few free hours we have(between work, raising our daughter) fighting to be able to return to the country that is our home (and losing at every turn), it is devastating. Everyone deserves fair access to enter their own country.

Maynah

The number of NZ Residents who wish/need to enter over the coming months far outstrips the number of MIQ slots available. This is exacerbated by failure of the Tasman Bubble, substantial capacity wastage due to ‘contingency’ and the new ‘cohort’ intake system, renovation work at two of the MIQ hotels and a lack of additional investment in MIQ bedspace. MIQ is presently booked out until the end of November, but with vaguepromises of a drip-feed of “additional spaces as they become available”.

Inadequacy of existing online booking system. The existing system requires applicants to scan a calendar of the coming months, up to and including November, looking for a date with available vouchers. As no such dates exist, applicants thus have to refresh the calendar repeatedly until an additional space is released, hoping to nab it before anyone else. As this can take anywhere from hours to days (depending on your travel window) it is now effectively impossible for an individual to secure a date manually.

Apps, scripts & bots. As a result, many applicants employ active scripts to monitor the calendar, sending an alarm when a date becomes available. Some pay for this service or employ third parties (eg in India) toact on their behalf. This has turned the application process into a commercial venture which, in turn, has massively increased the pressure of ‘hits’ on the Available Arrival Dates web page.

Double & commercial booking.  Whilst I have no hard evidence of this, a simple web search turns up multiple examples of MIQ system abuse, such asdouble-booking and booking re-sale. Obviously, if true, this is a serious failure of oversight within the MIQ process.

MBIE response.  Sadly, the response from joint head of MIQ Megan Main is one of denial, that this logjam is not a systems problem. And Chris Hipkins blames Kiwis for not returning “months ago” when there were moreslots, which ignores the existing (and likely, ongoing) situation.

Going forward. This is unlikely to be a short-term problem. Apart from expat returnees wishing to re-locate back home, a need for return business & personal travel originating from NZ will continue. Covid risk overseas may endure for years and our glacial vaccine rollout and take-up is unlikely to allow relaxation of border controls this year, or possibly next.

Vaccination status.  No allowance is presently given for vaccinated returnees, even those who have been demonstrably vaccinated here in NZ. In addition to a standard covid test, other states are already carrying out antibody tests for vaccinated arrivals, reducing the quarantine period from 2or 3 weeks to one week for those with healthy antibody levels which immediately reduces the pressure on MIQ.

What’s the answer?  First, acknowledge that there is a problem. The present level of MIQ reserve capacity needs to be trimmed and the hugely wasteful ‘cohort’ system reviewed. Vaccination status and antibody testing should be included in the MIQ process. The existing, ‘stop-gap’ application process is no longer fit-for-purpose. Some form of wait-listing procedure is required,together with published voucher availability. Advance payment, possibly some form of deposit, is also necessary to deter multi-booking and commercial third-party booking.

Concrete measures need to be announced soon. Thousands of lives are effectively on hold for want of a solid, government-led but business-like approach to our border bottleneck.

Thank you fortaking the time to address this issue which is of huge personal importance to thousands of Residents trapped the wrong side of the border.

Jim

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my son's story. I know there are some really heart-breaking tales out there and this should not be so hard. It is very late, I am watching my son play the last game of his camp in Zimbabwe- it is 2.30 pm there and 12.30pm here in NewZealand. My eyes are hurting from staring at a screen most of the day and getting absolutely nowhere but I will try to write something that makes sense.

I hope your blog makes a difference and things change very soon because the world is full of despairing New Zealanders at this point in time.

Warm regards,

My son, Doug, is a Zimbabwean-born New Zealand Citizen who has lived, studied and worked in Palmerston North since 2003. Rugby has always been his passion and imagine his excitement when, out of the blue, the manager of the Zimbabwe National team, The Sables, contacted him and said they had been watching him for years and would like to call him up tojoin the National Squad in Zimbabwe for their world cup bid in the Africa cup. For Doug, playing international rugby is a life-long dream and to play for the country of his birth was a great honour.

The camp was going to be from May to August and they would not book return flights until they had selected the final squad and sent the lads who did not make it home. Doug went to Worldwise travel to make sure he did everything by the book as far as Covid was concerned and they told him to just book his MIQ when he had his return date. Simple, he thought! Doug went to Zimbabwe and ended up in the starting XV for the Sables first international games and he has remained in the final squad.  

He registered with MIQ early in June and he has been unable to get a date for Managed Isolation. The system is dreadful. One has to sit glued to the screen, constantly refreshing the page in the hope that a date will pop up. He gave me his log-in details so that I could try from New Zealand, but it made no difference. To be honest it is a soul-destroying, dehumanising process. My son is a NZ citizen with a home and a job to come back to but he cannot return in the foreseeable future because MIQ is fully booked up until 12 December and there is no booking calendar up for the dates beyond that. The Zimbabwe Sables’Camp is coming to an end at the end of this week and that leaves my son with no income, nowhere to live and no hope of coming home soon. The Sables Management has sympathy for him and will try to look after him but for how long can they do that? How long will his company in New Zealand hold his job? What happens to the bills he needs to pay?

This system causes immense stress and anxiety to the people needing to get home and to family waiting in New Zealand. It would be easier to cope with if there was a waiting list to be on, or a fair and just system which provided hope of eventually achieving a booking but this system is a bizarre game of hit and miss designed for the tech-savvy, where scammers and “bots” thrive, excluding ordinary law-abiding and productive New Zealand Citizens and preventing them from getting home and continuing with their lives. It is also bitterly disappointing to hear that our government is giving away MIQ spaces to people who have not been registered in the system for months and creating more spaces for people who travelled to Australia during the “travelbubble” and allowing them to go through Managed Isolation for free (or attax-payers expense). New Zealand citizens wanting to return home should be ableto access a fair and accessible system of booking managed isolation, not have to be made to feel like reverse-refugees – stateless, they desperately want to return to their country, have committed no crime, followed the rules, are productive members of society, but their country does not welcome them back, it makes them feel like unwanted criminals. Surely this is breach of human rights?  

Pam

My recent short visit to my mum, after she suffered a stroke.

It is a hard decision for me to make the trip to visit my mum due to her recent stroke. She was in ICU last year and close to death. She is 83 years old. Unfortunately asking for an early vaccination from ministry of health before my departure is taking much longer and beyond that there are many obstacles.

However I managed to have both my Pfizer vaccinations before my departure purely by luck. After 14 days quarantine and settling my mum's needs and requirements I am now facing the unknowns of securing an MIQ spot in NZ. I have been refreshing the MIQ page for hours in the last 3 weeks (any dates from 1 Sept). Even my NZ friends offer to help when I am asleep. If life is by choice, I would not have needed to make the trip away from covid free New Zealand, but I guess I am now taking the heavy penalty of emotional drainage and financial loss was inevitable. Let us hope that the rest of us kiwis stuck oversea have better luck than me.

Chet

With a heavy heart and loads of tears, I am forfeiting our MIQ vouchers for March 18th today. After trying to secure another date (I am no whizz on the computer) I have given up. Each time that I thought I had it, it turned out I was too slow.
Our containers were to arrive tomorrow but I have postponed them and cancelled our flight.

I am scheduled to have my operation and cancer treatment soon, so sadly I will not have the support of my whanau, which is what I hoped for by going home.

I only hope that when my chemo is over and I am fit to fly that I can secure a place in MIQ. It’ll be in six months.
I am saddened that people I know here, having recently decided to move to NZwith their families, are able to secure a place so easily and others have met the emergency allocation criteria where there was no guarantee that I would meet that criteria.

Karen

I am stuck in Japan. I had stay here to see a contract through. My wife was bonded to a contract and the financial ramifications of breaking a bonded employee contract here are very high. Now she is back in NZ with her dying mum and I’d like to come home as well. I had to stay and tie up all our loose ends. My wife is now going to be on a new contract working remotely from NZ, but I’m stuck. My visa will expire with her new contract. I hope that I’ll be able to get an emergency allocation but it’s not guaranteed. If I overstay my visa I could go to prison. I really don’t want to spend time in a Japanese prison. There is a sentence of three months minimum for an over stayer here.

Nick

My son is in Finland and I'm having surgery this week. I would have loved for him to be home to look after me, as I live on my own. Unfortunately, it is proving impossible to get an MIQ spot. Many people are in the same position, I have not seen my son for 4 years & am finding it very stressful as it looks like he is never going to get home.

Wendy

We got the news that my dad was dying in the UK in June and I had to make the awful decision to fly and be with him.

I had to choose to take my daughter who is two and leave behind my two sons (four and six) and partner who is still having to try fulfil his job.

Luckily, my travel agent secured me a spot for the 14th august. However after a week in the UK it became apparent that I needed to be back home with my boys. I’ve had my daughter in tears for her daddy and brothers and my sons ringing me in tears wanting me home.

So I then begin to hunt for an earlier spot. It’s been impossible. Every date that I tick _ miss out on. I’ve emailed Jacinda, Chris Hipkins and MIQ and gotten dull half-hearted responses. Not only am I having to deal with dad dying but being torn apart from my boys and partner. My partner has had to deal with my two boys whilst also getting a stomach bugwhich wiped him out for a few days. I’ve had to isolate in the UK due to being in close contact with positive cases now I’m aloud out I’m too anxious to do so.

I’ve applied for emergency allocation and still waiting to hear.

My daughter turns 3 on the 2nd august which means she is away from her dad and my eldest turns 7 on the 10th august and he’s asking me why I can’t be there. It’s also my birthday on the 26th august but I don’t care about me just my kids and them being able to celebrate with their family. It’s been a traumatic experience.

Carrie-Ann

Long story for short. My young children have been granted residency within 3 weeks as they are facing severe domestic violence overseas.

I thought the process of issuing a visa would be the hardest but it turns out that MIQ system becomes the most difficult part. We have been declined emergency allocation twice.

Every day the cost of buying a spot from MIQ helpers rapidly arising. This afternoon it was $2545 per person.

Obviously MIQ system does not have any mercy or leniency for normal public. Pathetic me. Not rich enough for get privilege to reunite with immediate family.

Anonymous

My Dad had to get to the Greece (his country of birth) after the death of his sister. He is the only next of kin and has been a New Zealand citizen for 36 years.

In much distress, it took him four weeks of “relentless visiting and refreshing” the MIQ website - for hours at a time, at various times of the day and night (as well as me doing this from the U.K.). Throughall of this, he only got five days that actually worked, however by the time he clicked on them they were gone and he was in absolute despair.

During this time, he called the MIQ helpline three times to ask why the positions were disappearing; their explanation of “it’s the fastest person to click through” only added to the anger, anxiety and frustration of the situation.

He was so horribly stressed; I had daily calls or texts reflecting how bad this was affecting his mental health, sleep and well-being, “it is all I can think about, I’ve cancelled all my plans, I have to get a spot!” - knowing he couldn’t do anything for our family at the greatest time of need.

Thankfully two weeks ago, he managed to get a spot for September and has made it out of New Zealand (not without all the additional new challenges of the pre-flight requirements).

As an aside, the process was so ridiculous- two weeks before he started trying, my Mum managed to get a spot with no hassle. Then all of a sudden, all places were gone - made harder now with all of the added press on the broken process. Now, it’s my turn to try and get home from the U.K. in November with my partner and baby; we are painfully aware of how challenging this will be and really pray the process is improved to be more considerate of citizens.

Zoe

Last October my half-sister passed away in the UK. Due to the restrictions at the time, travel was impossible and getting to see her was never going to happen.

So I stayed in NZ and had to try be present over the computer screen. A few weeks ago my father's health started to decline rapidly and I tried to get the required documents in place to get an exemption. Sadly, I was too slow and he passed away. (I hear an exemption to see a dying relative is practically impossible)

There was no way that I was not going to jump on a plane to help my mother through this one. so that is what I did. I knew the risks but chose to go anyway, she would not have gotten through the last two weeks without me.

My next kick in the nether region is that I have found out my partner is pregnant (normally wonderful news to get at such a sad and stressful time). However it looks like it is Ectopic and we will lose it and she will require surgery to remove it and one of her tubes. She is having daily scans and tests and may need to be rushed in to have emergency surgery to remove at any point. I NEED TO BE THERE WITH HER ASAP but the system is impossible and I can see the impending heartache and trauma my partner is about to go through and I want to be there to support her.

I have spent hour upon hour refreshing and ticking boxes to no availability, this is truly soul destroying, and in reading the comments and seeing how many people are trying I know it is almost impossible to secure a spot as a normal person.

I am actively searching for companies with bots on the screen to help me and right now I do not care about the cost, I am now part of the problem with the MIQ system.

I have developed anxiety, something I have never had before, I am crazily stressed and cannot sleep. I have become a MIQ booking page zombie, the bots are so fast I do not even see the spot come up I only see a Twitter notification that it was apparently there. The whole process is farcical, it is not even fair we are being denied entry to our own country by this ridiculous barrier to entry they have placed in front of us. There is so much space available but athletes and sports stars are clearly more important than everyday taxpayers. Where has the kindness and compassion gone from this government that pretends to be kind and caring?

Will