Former NZ First immigration minister Tuariki Delamere loses breach of contract appeal

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Tuariki Delamere has been ordered by a court to pay $459,209.87 to former client Yingheng Liu. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Former NZ First immigration minister Tuariki Delamere has lost an appeal against paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Chinese national for a breach of contract.

Delamere, owner of immigration consultancy company TDA Immigration and Student Services Limited, helped Yingheng Liu try to get New Zealand residency in 2012.

The two agreed Liu would buy $500,000 of shares in another of Delamere’s companies to meet the requirements for his permanent residency application.

They agreed $350,000 of Liu’s investment would be held in a term deposit and he could veto any decisions on how it was used. Delamere and Liu agreed the latter would be the sole signatory of the term deposit account.


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Liu had the right to transfer his shares in Delamere’s company back to him in return for repayment of the $350,000 in the term deposit.

As part of Delamere and Liu’s agreement, Liu would find other Chinese nationals whom TDA Immigration could help to get New Zealand residency.

However, when Liu asked Delamere to repay the funds, he discovered most of the money had been transferred to another account. Contrary to the agreement, it turned out Liu was not the sole signatory on the term deposit.

Furthermore, Liu’s residency application was denied, as Immigration New Zealand was not convinced he had met the requirements for the Entrepreneur Plus fast-tracking scheme he had applied for.


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Liu applied to the High Court to recover the money he had invested. The defendants, Delamere and TDA Immigration, argued Liu breached his obligation to source clients for the company as agreed.

Liu also accused Delamere and TDA Immigration of not meeting the implied term of the agreement that his money would be returned if his residency application failed.

However, the judge found Liu and Delamere’s obligations to one another were mutually exclusive and there was an implied term Liu’s money should be returned even if his residency application failed.

The High Court ordered Delamere to repay the $350,000 to Liu, but Delamere appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, where his lawyer argued the judge didn’t take into account any of Liu’s alleged breaches of contract, among other points.

Delamere lost his appeal and was ordered to pay $459,209.87 to Liu.

Delamere was minister of immigration from 1996 to 1999, the same period he served as the Member of Parliament for Te Tai Rāwhiti.

He was accused of fraud in 2007, appearing in the High Court after the Serious Fraud Office laid 20 charges claiming he defrauded his old government department. A jury found Delamere not guilty.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.


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