Chef de­tained at night mar­ket


The de­ten­tion of a Thai chef at a pop­u­lar Porirua night mar­ket has been blamed on a mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the man, who was led away to a wait­ing car from the Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen dur­ing the Porirua Food Truck Night Mar­ket on Thurs­day.

A wit­ness said three men with ‘‘Im­mi­gra­tion’’ writ­ten on their cloth­ing took the man to a wait­ing ve­hi­cle about 5pm.

Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen owner Daeng Neuang-Keo said there was prob­a­bly a mis­un­der­stand­ing be­cause the man had been help­ing out vol­un­tar­ily dur­ing a busy time, and had not been work­ing as a paid staff mem­ber.

‘‘It’s shock­ing to me,’’ NeuangKeo said.

‘‘I feel re­ally sad. He was a very good guy, and we’re try­ing to do ev­ery­thing by the book.

‘‘He came to us look­ing for work and we hoped we could spon­sor him be­cause we’re look­ing for chefs.’’

She said the cook had been in the coun­try about five years, but his work visa had ex­pired, so he had been work­ing with an im­mi­gra­tion lawyer and wait­ing to get an­other one.

In the mean­time, he had helped out vol­un­tar­ily.

‘‘It’s very hard to find au­then­tic Thai chefs. We tried train­ing lo­cals but they couldn’t do it.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple may not have been to Thai­land, and maybe they only ex­pe­ri­ence they have is at lo­cal restau­rants, and that’s not al­ways au­then­tic.’’

Im­mi­gra­tion NZ as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager of com­pli­ance and bor­der op­er­a­tions Peter Devoy con­firmed a per­son was taken into cus­tody at the night mar­ket.

He said he could not com­ment fur­ther for pri­vacy rea­sons.

Porirua City Coun­cil, which pro­motes the night mar­ket along with the Welling­ton Food Truck Col­lec­tive, said it was not aware of the in­ci­dent.

Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen owner Daeng Neuang-Keo.

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