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Mum may be deported from Samoa without sons

Jan 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


DESPERATE TO BE REUNITED: Elwynn Lennie with Qlevedon.

A PORIRUA mother faces deportation from Samoa back to New Zealand without her two young children, who she says are with her estranged husband.

Elwynn Taotua Lennie (27) says she has not seen sons Qlevedon (2) and Ephraim (1) since New Year’s Eve.

“Their father was only supposed to take them for a couple of days, but he has not returned them,” says the worried mother, from a village near Apia.

With her visa running out soon, she could be deported back to New Zealand as an overstayer.

“I’m all by myself and I miss my boys heaps – I just want to bring them home.”

Miss Lennie left New Zealand in March, stayed for three months in Samoa and returned to New Zealand after separating from her husband, Pat Arasi (26), leaving her youngest son with his family.


MISSING HIM: Elwynn Lennie with younger son Ephraim.

“His family wanted Ephraim and kept asking me to leave him, so I did,” she says.

“I then returned to Samoa in October to pick him up and give their father time with the kids before coming back to New Zealand.

“I needed to get the kids out, but was trying to be civil when letting him take the kids before New Year’s Eve for [what was intended to be] a couple of days.”

She says Mr Arasi has obtained an extension visa for the boys to stay longer in Samoa.

Her New Zealand passport and those of the children, birth certificates and personal belongings are no longer at a house where she was staying.

Miss Lennie contacted police in Samoa and was told to get back with her husband.

Grace To’o, of Porirua, godmother to Qlevedon and Ephraim, contacted Peter Noonan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wellington and asked for his help.

“I fear for Elwynn,” says Miss To’o. “She’s doing everything on her own. I just needed to get help for her. We just want them home.”

Miss Lennie says she got a phone call from Fran Mu at the New Zealand High Commission office in Samoa, and was advised it was a civil matter.

“They could not help me in terms of the children, but they would be able to get my passport back.”

Although she expects legal action will be needed, she has no money to fund it.

A cousin of Miss Lennie, Jenny Taotua, says she has spoken to lots of people seeking help, but “it’s like we’re playing the waiting game now”.

A representative of Victim Support in Samoa, which is helping Miss Lennie, says the group is going to lobby on her behalf “to make sure we can have a positive outcome”.

NewsWire sought comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but got no response because staff is busy with relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti.

NewsWire has not been able to reach Mr Arasi for comment.

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is is Niuean and has mastered the art of Talanoa, when translated means "talking long", deciding to put this talent to use she found her way to Whitireia Journalism School. Her interests are in things Pacific, Leadership and Mentoring. She hopes to rock the airwaves in the very near future.
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  1. This is a very sad story, as I am a very close friend of Elwyn. I am praying that the Samoan goverment remembers the help and support that they recieved from ordinary kiwis as well as the New Zealand goverment during the tsunami. In there time of need us kiwis stood up and supported them, all I pray for is that they show us the same respect and support, and help a loving and careing solo mother obtain her children, I dont think thats a lot to ask for. I personaly know Elwyn and can honestly say that she is a careing and very loving mother, sister and friend, and one can only imagine the grief that a solo mother like Elwyn is going through. being a mother myself, my kids are my world and to be apart from them for any period of time breaks my heart. So im encouraging one and all to please rally behind Elwyn and to please help out in any way possible..


    Ana Tolova’a

  2. Hey Elwynn.
    So sad to hear of your situation. Can’t imagine how hard it is for you to go through all of this on your own. Please know that I’m thinkin of you. And i hope to see you AND both your boys back home soon!!
    Love love xx

  3. This is really hard for me to comment on just because it is so close to home and very personal to me.

    But to put aside personal matters and address the issue at hand, I feel that Elwynn hasn’t had the right assistance from the people of Samoa. Whether they are officials or the authorities it sounds as if she is going back and forth and not making any progress what so ever. Waiting for something, an answer or even a response in how to get her children back must be a devastating ordeal for any parent to go through.

    For Elwynn to go to an unfamiliar environment with 2-young children to meet their father and extended family and then to end up being alone without her children, would certainly make me feel frightened and scared, both for the safety of the children and for myself. It is almost over 2-weeks ago since she has last seen her children and it saddens me to know that a mother could be parted from her children for even more than minute let alone 2-weeks.

    I know that things run differently in Samoa as opposed to New Zealand. It just baffles me to hear and to know that Samoa is so casual about things like this. I have yet to go to my mother and fathers homeland but after this…it makes me wonder whether I should visit or not? My parents told me that because times have changed, the years have gone on, and so has the custom and culture of Samoa has changed. Morals and standards that were once held highly and respectively have almost gone out the window. WHY? Because of this ‘Tupulaga’ (This Generation).

    So why do I mention this? People use to care and be concerned and it wasn’t a problem (love thy neighbour as thy self), you could almost say that it was the love of Christ that the Samoan people would lend a helping hand without wanting anything in return (service). But now it’s who you know and how much money one has to offer to get things done, with or without legal action. Well, go figure. It’s sad but true!!! Reality you say? Maybe… Samoa is rich in culture, ethics, family, tradition, religion and so on. But who does that imply to?

    I just hope and pray that Elwynn is able to be reunited with her children Qlevedon and Ephraim again and return home to New Zealand. No child/children should ever go through anything like this and as for the parent/s, think before you act! Children have feelings too, they need to be loved, cared for, shown guidance, given security and comfort. They should never feel afraid, abandoned or alone.

    I hope that the Samoan Government, MP’s, officials, authority’s, matai’s or someone is able to intervene and help a daughter of Samoa in her time of need!

    “Ia Tu Ieova I Lo Tatou Va”

    From a concerned Aunty

  4. hey Elwynn,

    when i bumped into grace and she told me what happened i was so like mad and gutted cause i know how much you love your sons because when i cee you, you constantly talk about them and that shows your boys are your world, and i cant imagine what your going through but i know it will tear me apart if my boys were to ever be parted from me, but be strong girl you need to for both them, may god guide you through this rough time that you are going through, me and Dayton and drae are praying for you and your boys that yous be reunited again. hope to see you and Both your cute boys BACK!!!!!….

    we love you girl!!!!

  5. I only pray that Elwyn will be blessed with her children back. She is one of my good friends and my wife and I are praying for you in this messed up situation El. Be strong and know that we are thinking about you.


    The Scanlans (from Hawaii)

  6. Submitted on 2010/01/20 at 1:03am
    I am Elwynn Taotua’s first cousin Jenny Taotua. Elwynn is my closest and dearest cousin. We have grown up together and I have seen her struggles and triumphs over the years. When she came back from Samoa the first time without her youngest son I and elwynns closest friends were all devastated and she was a wreck. She had told us of how her estranged husband Pat and his family were at the airport begging for elwynn to leave one of her sons. Elwynn has the biggest heart and I know that she would of felt sorry for the family as her children are the only grandchildren on Pat’s side. She left her youngest knowing that she would return to Samoa to bring him back to N.Z It was a tough few months when Elwynn was back in N.Z without her youngest son and I saw the pain that she was going through and her yearning for her son Ephraim.
    As her cousin and maybe one of the only family members that are really backing and supporting her, I can say to all who read that she is not at all anything such as a ‘BAD MOTHER’. She is the most loving, kindest, caring, bestest mother to her two boys. All she wants is her sons back. She has supported and raised her two sons all on her own. She is a strong woman and I know that she will not give up the fight. I pray that God will give you the strength sis to come out on top and victorious!
    I am however very angry at how Elwynns situation has been dealt with over in Samoa. There have been people that have been so kind and helpful to her in which I am truly thankful and grateful to on her bahalf. However Elwynn has called me and friends here in N.Z crying saying that she “feels like she has been running around in circles”. I am furious and it really shows to me her friends and supporters of Elwynn here that its “who you bloody know over there in Samoa!!!”. I hope that once this is all over my Elwynn can turn around and laugh at their faces… those that have been unprofessional in their manner and dealing with Elwynns plead to get her sons back. Where is the integrity in any of this and in those kind of people? You all should be ashamed of yourselves and should be fired!!!
    Kia Kaha Elwynn keep the faith God is on your side!
    Love you and praying for you sis.

  7. What kind of system is this? I am a NZ born Samoan and reading this article has really saddened me. How unprofessional the Samoan authorities are behaving! Is this the kind of justice system they run in Samoa? A mother goes to them for help to retrieve her boys and they tell her to get back with the father? How stupid can they get? It seems to me like they are picking sides and have chosen to side with the father of the boys. Is it a sexist thing? Are they being biased? In my opinion, the way Samoan authorities are treating Elwynn can be classed as bullying. She is all alone there and all she wants are her boys and to return to NZ with them. That is where they belong. [If] Pat really wants custody then he should be doing it through the NZ court system. Aren’t those boys NZ citizens?

    Good luck Elwynn. Keep the faith, be strong and stay positive. You will have your boys back with you soon.


  8. This is so wrong! The saddest part of this whole ordeal is that it’s taken a mother losing her children for us to see how our Government Systems in Samoa are functioning (or should I say malfunctioning!)
    Elwynn has been seeking assistance from various authorities, those honourable individuals whose duty it is to ‘serve and protect’ the people, for a good few weeks now and has been unsuccessful to say the least. The MINUTE her story is all over the news, NOW they want to make a move on things?! Unreal.
    Is this the kind of help on offer to our loved ones in Samoa? Wow. Time to dust off those job descriptions and recap!
    I hope you get the boys back El. You are in our prayers.
    Miss and love you heaps!

  9. Talofa Elwynn,

    It’s so sad to hear what is happening over there. Where is the justice? We are thinking of you and hope that you will get your children back and come home. May the Lord bless and watch over you in this time of need!


    The Scanlans

  10. Wow what kinda of system are they on? Just reading both the articles it is sad to see that she has absolutely NOTHING.What a great example of a strong pacific women trying to stand for her rights and won’t give up anything to loose her children.I don’t know how any one would want to be in her situation.Reading the comments above is a prime example of how much support she has back home.

    As for the twisted authorities, I quote “They could not help me in terms of the children, but they would be able to get my passport back.”. WHAT? Passport? Where is the support in that? EXACTLY! who would want the passport over thier own child? It must be so frustrating to be going back and forth with no outcome let alone the days passing by with no success or children,oh and note the fact that she is carrying again! imagine the stress she is going through.
    I just hope that the situation would be handled more seriously and promptly,and take in to count the safety of the children.

    We love u El you know were all here supporting you,hope u will be reunited with you boys soon
    Mother of 2

  11. El we know that we aint there with you in person but back home hea where you and your kids are from where here for you, i think that being that this is going on for long its not healthy for the boys and also not good for el because she is carrying again, totally agree with the above “HOW CAN THEY SAY WE CAN GET YOUR PASSPORT PORT BACK” do yous not get that this loving mother only wants to bring her kids home with her where they were born and to be going to the islands to see their father, i think that pat should take into account that El has bought his kids to see him and to spend to time with him and not to turn around and take the kids away from her, reading his side of the story and saying honestly he does not know why she left but its a long story?? who says that why did he not ask her than when he said that he called her when she was sick? knowing that she sick why didnt he take the kids for them to see their mother??, it angers me to know that the people in the high places are giving her the run around, if they cant help why cant they direct her into the right direction for her too seek help/advice on geting her kids back instead of giving her the run around.

    and to think what its doing to the boys? not seeing their mother i think they all need to sit down and think how would they feel if they were in Els shoes? not seeing her kids, being away to long afraid of being deported back without them, el were still praying for you and mum says shes thinking about you and her prayers are with you and the boys.

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