New Zealand

Tongan player asked to leave NZ

Fri, 06 Sep 2013 13:07
Rugby-ball-general2 Rugby-ball-_-post Rugby-ball-general

A Tongan national, who has been playing for Poverty Bay in the Heartland Championship, has been given two weeks to leave New Zealand of his own volition.

Vili Savaki, 27, had been illegally in New Zealand for almost a year, Gisborne District Court was told.

He moved there in October last year for his aunt's funeral, but was arrested soon after for assault with intent to commit sexual violation - he was acquitted at a subsequent trial.

Counsel Alistair Clarke told the court Savaki's visa ran out during the lead-up to the trial.

He had not been able to renew it without his passport, which authorities had confiscated.

Despite Clarke's efforts, there had been an unwillingness to transfer the passport, even internally, to the immigration department for a new visa to be issued.

Savaki was not an illegal immigrant who had been trying to evade detection; he was a high-profile person in a high-profile sport, Clark said.

He remained in the country after being selected for Poverty Bay and had not come to further official notice until recently charged with drink-driving.

Crown prosecutor Kim Laurenson sought a warrant to detain Savaki until deportation, but agreed to have the application adjourned for a fortnight to allow him to leave voluntarily.

He was remanded on bail with conditions, including reporting to police three times a week.

Poverty Bay coach Mutu Ngarimu said he had no idea until Thursday that the lock forward, Savaki, was an 'overstayer'.

"As for the drink-driving, that's not what we expect from players representing Poverty Bay," Ngarimu said.

"It's totally against team protocol and what we are trying to achieve, on and off the field - players proud to wear the jersey and respecting that it is an honour that not every rugby player gets.''

Source: Gisborne Herald