Controversial Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have been granted work visas to enter New Zealand, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced today.
"Immigration New Zealand’s decision in no way condones the views expressed by the pair, which are repugnant to this Government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders," he said.
"I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand. However the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised the pair meet."
The decision comes after the group Free Speech New Zealand filed court action on Wednesday against Auckland Council after the council would not allow the pair to speak on Council-owned venues, citing safety issues as the reasoning.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told RNZ's Morning Report on July 10 he was "not going to aid and abet people who spout racist nonsense by providing them with a venue".
"Neither speaker has been convicted of a crime, nor banned from the United Kingdom or Australia as has been previously reported," Mr Lees-Galloway said.
Ms Southern tweeted on July 9 a letter she said she received from Immigration New Zealand not allowing her entry into New Zealand, that was later retracted.
It said due to her ban from entering the UK, she would not be given a visa to New Zealand but she could seek to obtain a Special Direction before entering.
However, Ms Southern tweeted a follow up email which said Immigration Border Operations "recently confirmed that your ban from the UK does not affect your ability to travel to, or enter New Zealand".
"Thanks I guess? Now if we could be unbanned from our venue that'd be great," Ms Southern wrote.
The work visa will give the pair 10 days in New Zealand.