20 May 2009

Prominent writers face New Zealand visa troubles before festival

Two international writers bound for the Sydney Writers' Festival had trouble with their New Zealand visa and immigration status this week, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Pakistan writer Mohammed Hanif and Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan were both stopped at Auckland Airport to have their New Zealand visa status scrutinised by immigration authorities.

While it is unclear as to why Akpan was held at the airport, who is a Jesuit priest working in the slums of Lagos, Immigration NZ has said that Hanif was detained and searched because his name was a near match to the suspected terrorist Mohammed Haneef.

During his acceptance speech for the secondary award of best new book at the Commonwealth Writers Prize ceremony in New Zealand on Saturday evening, Hanif said they were singled out by the immigration services because of their "brown" skin and "curly hair".

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

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