A family from Tuvalu appealed the decision to deport them from New Zealand, arguing that they would be at risk of suffering the adverse impacts of climate change — including the adverse effects of natural disasters — and socio-economic deprivation. Unlike in the domestic proceedings in the Teitiota case (domestically known as the AF (Kiribati) case), which made its way before the UN Human Rights Committee after leave to stay was refused, the applicants in this case received leave to remain in New Zealand on the basis of the exceptional circumstances of their case, which were understood to raise humanitarian concerns. The domestic court, the Auckland Immigration and Protection Tribunal, considered the family’s integration, the fact that they were “well-loved and integral members of a family”, and the best interests of their two children, aged three and five years old at the material time. Having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Tribunal considered that the children’s young age made them more vulnerable to natural disasters and the adverse impact of climate change, and that it would be in their best interests to remain living with their parents in New Zealand. Concerning climate change and environmental degradation as a humanitarian issue, the Tribunal noted that it was “widely accepted that the impacts of climate change can adversely affect the enjoyment of basic human rights” and that “Tuvalu, as a country comprising low-lying topical islands (…) is particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Environmental degradation caused or exacerbated by climate change was already a feature of life in Tuvalu”. Considering these factors on a cumulative basis, and finding that there was no adverse public interest in this case, the Tribunal found that “there are exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature, which would make it unjust or unduly harsh for the appellants to be removed from New Zealand.”
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The decision of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in this case can be downloaded below.
New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal at Auckland, AD (Tuvalu)  NZIPT 501370-371, Decision of 4 June 2014.
For more on this case and an analysis, see Jane McAdam, ‘The Emerging New Zealand Jurisprudence on Climate Change, Disasters and Displacement’, 3(1) Migration Studies (2015), 131–142.
17 August 2023.