NZ resident to be deported to Samoa after raping 71-year-old woman

A convicted rapist is to be deported from New Zealand, despite arguing that sending him back to Samoa would mean “the end of all his dreams”.

Matila Ilia-Neemia​ came to New Zealand in 2011 at the age of 13. He became a resident after being adopted by his aunt and uncle, who also have residency.

In 2015, when he was 18, he entered a 71-year-old woman’s home and raped her twice. He was convicted of rape and burglary and sentenced to six years and three months in prison, but was released after serving two years and three months.

At his sentencing, the court heard Ilia-Neemia entered the woman’s home through an unlocked door after hearing the shower running.

He then pulled the woman out of the shower and raped her in the bathroom and her bedroom.

The victim told the court the muscles and ligaments in her wrist were torn in the incident. She now suffers from flashbacks and anxiety and has had to move house because of the memories.

Ilia-Neemia, now 23, was served with a deportation liability notice in late 2019, which he appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on humanitarian grounds.

In a recently released decision, the tribunal declined his appeal, saying Ilia-Neemia had not established he and his family have “exceptional circumstances” to warrant him being allowed to stay.

The tribunal said that although Ilia-Neemia is a New Zealand resident, he is eligible for deportation because he committed a serious crime within five years of obtaining a residence visa.

It also heard he went on to offend just two months after being released from prison for rape.

He was racing another car when he crashed into a parked car, it heard.

His cousin, who was in the passenger seat, broke his leg in two places.

Ilia-Neemia was convicted of dangerous driving causing injury and sentenced to seven months’ home detention.

He argued it was important he stay in New Zealand so he could send money back to his biological parents in Samoa.

Leaving New Zealand would mean “the end of all his dreams”, the tribunal heard – he wants to play rugby at a representative level and get a university degree and a job in the arts.

His latest parole report, from July this year, confirmed he had been discharged by the psychologist as a “completed, treated sex offender”.

Ian Murray, counsel for the Minister of Immigration, argued Ilia-Neemia’s parents were able to manage financially when he was in prison and could not send money home.

It was also “not uncommon for a deportee to suffer a reduction in their quality of life upon their return to their home country”, Murray said.

Tribunal member Annabelle Clayton sided with Murray in her decision, ruling Ilia-Neemia did not have “exceptional” humanitarian circumstances.

“The loss of opportunities is an inevitable consequence of deportation,” she said.