ZB

Hundreds of overseas entertainers granted exceptions to enter NZ

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 11 Mar 2022, 5:19pm
Guests leaving the Pullman Hotel's MIQ facility in Auckland last year. (Photo / Dean Purcell)
Guests leaving the Pullman Hotel's MIQ facility in Auckland last year. (Photo / Dean Purcell)

Hundreds of overseas entertainers granted exceptions to enter NZ

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 11 Mar 2022, 5:19pm

Hundreds of entertainers including dozens of DJs were handed border exceptions last year, in what a lobby group says highlights the shambolic nature of MIQ.

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union said 316 foreign entertainers, including 64 DJs, were "fast-tracked" through managed isolation last year.

An Official Information Act response showed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment granted the critical worker border exceptions.

"Techno performers like DJ Dimension and Dom Dolla hogged rooms in MIQ facilities while Kiwis were barred from seeing their families," taxpayers' union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke said.

He added: "How can anyone defend dishing out exemptions to dubstep and hip-hop DJs while slamming the door shut on nurses that we desperately need?"

Houlbrooke said any claims the entertainers brought a wider benefit to the national or regional economy did not stack up.

"MIQ has wound down for Kiwis, but the Government's cruel and irrational zero-sum game remains in place for international visitors," he said.

Forty-six people were granted a critical purpose visa for summer festivals in December, January and February.

Of people invited to apply for visas over summer, 15 had been invited to apply for visas once before and two had been invited to apply for visas twice before.

DJ Dimension late last year said he was devastated to learn he had tested positive for Omicron while in New Zealand.

The DJ, real name Robert Etheridge, said he received hate and abuse after testing positive.

Etheridge admitted to leaving self-isolation early without receiving the result of his day 9 test, which later returned a positive result.

The UK-based electronic music artist was due to perform at Rhythm & Alps near Wānaka before he abruptly pulled out not long before he was due to take the stage.

Before heading south he spent several hours in the community on Boxing Day - visiting places including a nightclub and bar, restaurants and a jewellery store.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins this week unveiled a timeline for the dismantling of most MIQ facilities.

Only four out of 32 staying in the network from the end of June.

The announcement upset some MIQ hotel workers, with Unite Union saying staff learned of the timeline through media, and would lose weekly MIQ allowances of about $80.