The Methodist Connexional Office is located at:

Weteriana House
50 Langdons Road
Christchurch 8053

Postal address

PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

P. (03) 366 6049   I   0800 266 639

Please phone our main line (as above) and at the prompt either dial '0' to speak to Reception or enter an extension number. For a list of extensions please CLICK HERE

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Christchurch South Parish

St Marks Somerfield

Our Core Values:
Acceptance Caring
Creativity Outreach
Teamwork Worshipfulness

Christchurch South Methodist Parish - Contact details:
St Marks Church and Hall
CnrBarrington & Somerfield Streets, Somerfield, Christchurch 8024
See Map at the bottom of this web page.

Presbyter: Rev Andrew Donaldson
C/- Parish Office, 27 Remuera Ave, Cashmere, Christchurch 8022
Phone:+64 (03) 980 5002

Worship Times:

SUNDAY March 26th 7:00 p.m.
                      Contemplative Service

SUNDAY April 2nd 10:00 a.m. 
                     Rev Norman West

SUNDAY April 9th 10:00 a.m. Holy Communion
                     Rev Andrew Donaldson

THURSDAY April 13th 10:00 p.m.  Maundy Thursday
                     Rev Andrew Donaldson

GOOD FRIDAY April 14th at 10:a.m.
                      Combined Service with Christchurch Central Parish
                      at Knox Church Hall Bealey Av.
                      Rev Jill van de Geer

SUNDAY April 16th 10:00 a.m. Easter Day
                     Rev Bill Elderton

SUNDAY April 23rd   10:00 a.m.
                     Rev Andrew Donaldson

SUNDAY April 30th 10:00 a.m.
                     Rev Andrew Donaldson

SUNDAY April 30th 7:00 p.m.
                      Contemplative Service

Presbyter's Ramblings for April 

"Indian Student Visa Fiasco and the Churches' Response"

I have been interested to follow the unfolding story of Immigration New Zealand's decision to make unlawful a large number of Indian students who came to New Zealand and who provided falsified documents submitted as part of their Student Visa applications.

On the surface, it is reasonably clear that the students declared that all the information provided in their applications was true; not false or misleading.  However, nothing is ever that black and white.

The Government has however chosen to take a very clear stance and it was always very unlikely to back down from its position.

Based on media reports,  the student's own statements and those advocating on behalf of the students has brought the story into the minds of New Zealanders.  The Churches' response was to challenge the Government's position and to stand with the Indian students issued with Liability for Deportation Notices.

One Ministry oversees two Government Immigration Agencies leading to confusion.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment oversees two Immigration Agencies. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA)  The first has responsibility for granting visas and entry permissions.  The latter licences individuals who can offer immigration advice.

It is a crime to offer immigration advice unless you are licenced to do so or that you are exempt from having to hold a licence. Such exemptions include, but not limited to, lawyers who hold a practicing certificate and education agents operating off shore.

INZ had been investigating Student Visa holders whose applications appeared to include false and misleading information.  The Agency determined that these visa holders did indeed contain false and misleading information. A consequence of this was that the granted visas were withdrawn making the students unlawfully in New Zealand.  Consequently, they had no option but to leave.

A common factor in many of these applications was a particular Education Agent who was also a focus of an INZ investigation.  The Education Agent  was also seeking licencing as a Licenced Immigration Adviser.  It was reported that the IAA at the same time as the INZ investigations issued the Education Agent a licence to offer immigration advice.

As you can imagine this lead to confusion amongst the students. On  one hand, they were hearing that the actions of their Education Agent lead to their becoming unlawful but on the other hand, the IAA was providing that same person a licence to offer immigration advice based on qualifications and character.


This is not the first time visa holders have had their visas  withdrawn after their applications were deemed to contain false and misleading information.  In 2015 and 2016 an INZ Investigation of a number of migrant Diary Workers in New Zealand found that their applications contained false and misleading documentation.

Immigration NZ moved to make these workers unlawful.  There was, however, an outcry from the Dairy Industry. This INZ action put in jeopardy dairy production.  The Minister of Immigration, who at his absolute discretion, provided for the Immigration Act 2009 responded by normalizing the dairy workers visas.

Acknowledging that these students have contributed to the New Zealand economy lawyers and student advocates requested that the Minister of Immigration do the same for the Indian students. 

The Minister declined the request.

Cultural Misunderstanding

As reported in the media some in the Indian Community have argued that INZ and the Minister need to consider the Indian Context.  At times, it seemed this was euphemism for an assumption that India is a corrupt place. That is, if we want to do business with India we have to take this into account.  I am uncomfortable with this suggestion.  However we have been informed the students did not necessarily know that errors in truth were being made on their behalf.  The crime that the individual students' have been accused of is naively assuming that all their application documentation was true and correct.


Having got to know a number of international students including Indian students over the years, apart from some of our high-end and specialist qualifications and it is difficult to generalise, international students come to study in New Zealand because we offer credible credentials and we compete on price. Families that can afford to go to Princeton, Oxford or the London School of Economics enrol their children in those institutions .

I have known many students whose families have used their family savings to send a child to New Zealand to get a credible Western education and set their young people up for a better life.  I have known students who have consequently pulled out of their studies to recover monies to send back home to assist in unexpected family crises.

I am happy to accept media presentations who have indicated that many of  these
students are from families who have spent their family savings and  taken out loans to
assist their children to get qualifications that are perceived to set these young people up
for a life time.  

I am also prepared to accept that these students are in fact victims in this fiasco.

The students go home carrying the shame of being sent home. While our tertiary education system will allow students to recover partial fees paid.  This is small comfort as students return home having failed to gain the qualification.

They return having  failed their family and having failed their communities.  They also have attached to their immigration history, accessible practicably by every other country, that they are a likely risk of being unlawful while out of India -  meaning their international travel plans will be severely curtailed. 

All they have achieved is a number of burdens they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

The Churches' Stance                                                                      

The INZ and the Minister of Immigration have acted legally in making their stand for the integrity of our Immigration System.  They might even be able to make a moral argument for their actions.  However, their stance has left a number of young people victimised in ways we in New Zealand do not understand. Clause 3(1) of the Immigration Act 2009 states, "The purpose of this Act is to manage immigration in a way that balances the national interest, as determined by the

 Crown, and the rights of individuals" The Church is right to question the decisions of New Zealand's Immigration system and to advocate on behalf of those who appear to be victimised by it. 


Phone +64 3 982 5002


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Updated 26 March, 2017