Stranded Kiwis arrive home

Photo: File/SunLive.

Thirteen Kiwis who have been stranded on a cruise ship off the coast of Uruguay arrived back in New Zealand today.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says this is one of the latest successful repatriations of New Zealanders stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules carrying 39 people from Vanuatu also arrived in the country.

"Our most recent repatriation effort occurred this afternoon with 13 people previously stranded aboard the Greg Mortimer cruise ship off the coast of Uruguay having arrived in Auckland on a government-chartered medevac plane from Melbourne,” Winston says.

The deployment of the C-130 to Vanuatu carrying a helicopter and additional supplies to support the Tropical Cyclone Harold response effort gave us the opportunity to repatriate a large group of New Zealanders seeking to return home.”

He says the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the largest consular response New Zealand has ever undertaken.

“Consular teams here and around the world are navigating extremely complex circumstances every day, to continue to find solutions that work.”

Winston says the people stranded on the Greg Mortimer Cruise Ship “were in a dangerous situation, with very limited options to return.”

He reiterates all passengers arriving into the country will enter immediate quarantine.

New Zealanders overseas should be seeking to shelter safely where they are or return home by commercial means where possible, Winston says.

"We continue to look for solutions in an extremely complex global environment, including working with our partners wherever we can, but government-chartered flights will only be explored in exceptional circumstances when all other options have been exhausted.”

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