The time has come when it is safe to conclude that the obsession with the “living together” requirement for partnership visas, mocks New Zealand’s commitment to diversity.

Every time there is a new announcement related to partnership visa processing, an accompanied insult and humiliation is hurled upon a section of New Zealanders who have formed conjugal relationships based on Indian marriages, where “living together” is not a necessary precondition to be in a marital relationship.

New Zealand’s immigration rules do not consider such relationships, which are otherwise genuine, stable and have social, cultural and legal sanctity across millennia, to be worthy enough to be accepted as “partners” and hence not eligible for partnership visas.

It is only after applicants are able to demonstrate some bare minimum evidence of living together, which in most cases requires a New Zealander of Indian descent to take leave or resign from their NZ based jobs, travel overseas and live there for months to satisfy Immigration NZ that the conditions of “living together” for partnership visa have been met, that they get to bring their partners onshore.

This appalling requirement placed upon New Zealanders and temporary migrants in the country in this day and age raises questions on New Zealand’s commitment to diversity and multiculturalism.

Commitment to diversity often requires an unwavering acceptance of the other, without having to impose any expectations to conform, change or evolve, before being considered worthy enough to be embraced in the fold.

In this regard, although New Zealand as a country has taken phenomenal strides in the last few decades in embracing diversity and multiculturalism in every realm of public life, there are still many lingering elements that remain unresolved.

Not accepting relationships based on Indian marriages, as partners within immigration rules, simply because it does not conform to what is largely considered as a Euro-centric view of a conjugal relationship, is a remnant of racism embedded in New Zealand’s immigration system (before 1987).

It is important to note that the current definition of partnership within immigration rules has not been changed for at least three decades, which corresponds to a post 1987 phase when New Zealand has for the first time embraced a non-white immigration policy, thus highly likely to represent a white world view on every facet of human behaviour, including on relationships.

Since then, there has been a transformational change in the face and composition of NZ society with gradual immigration and inclusion of New Zealanders from different background, ethnicity, and culture in the Kiwi-society.

Expectedly, these new Kiwis follow different customs, belief systems, and cultural practices, with a belief that there would be an undiluted acceptance to their way of life in the modern New Zealand.

However, when such ethnic New Zealanders’ minority, which forms roughly 10 per cent of New Zealand’s population are forced to conform to seemingly obsolete definition of conjugal relationships to be allowed entry into New Zealand and join their onshore partner then it clearly questions the society’s commitment to diversity.

To ignore this obsession for “living together” for the purpose partnership visa, as a mere trivial operational issue of immigration bureaucracy or as something required to maintain the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system a blatant inaccuracy.

The letters issued by Immigration New Zealand to thousands of partnership visa seekers acknowledge the existence of a genuine, stable and culturally approved relationships with their New Zealand based sponsors corroborates that the robustness of immigration system have not been compromised.

Yet, the fact that INZ considers such genuine, stable relationships not as partners for the purpose of “partnership visas” is an arbitrary choice, and not a rational choice, possibly ordained by the racist elements still remnant from the pre-1987 white supremacy era of immigration.

It undeniably mocks New Zealand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.