Green Party MP Ricardo Menéndez March says he is grateful he was not given special treatment after he applied for an emergency spot in managed isolation and had it declined.
Menéndez March left New Zealand on 18 December to travel to Mexico to visit his step-mother who has breast cancer and his father who had just undergone a major operation.
He and is now back in the country and nearing the end of his two weeks in managed isolation.
In a statement on Facebook yesterday, Menéndez March explained that he made the trip at short notice to visit a terminally ill parent.
He told Morning Report he had been postponing trips to go and see his parents, knowing it may be the last time he could, and the only chance he had to go was over summer.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision to make to put family first and ensure that I was able to spend time with my sick dad and step-mum.”
He said his stepmother had a relapse of breast cancer which she has been battling for some years.
“I have been postponing trips to go and see them knowing that it may be the last time I do due to the nature of my work and the pandemic, so the only opportunity I had to do that was over the summer recess.”
Menéndez March booked the trip when he was already an MP and said members of the Green Party had been aware that his step-mother had been sick.
He said he got the go-ahead to travel overseas after following standard procedure and checking in with co-leader Marama Davidson and party whip Jan Logie.
Menéndez March applied for an emergency voucher for managed isolation but that was rejected.
“So the emergency voucher is one that many New Zealanders apply for and one that I was rightfully declined as most people who apply are.
“I was just exploring the avenues that were possible and I ended up using the MIQ website like everybody else does but just kept refreshing for many many hours on end in order to get a voucher.”
He said it’s a reality that many New Zealanders face returning home.
Menéndez March said people have a right to apply to skip the queue for a voucher and he is grateful that he was not given special treatment.
He had not secured a place in managed isolation at the time he went to Mexico.
“I knew … based on the MIQ availability that it would have meant potentially just a couple of weeks or a month.”
Asked what he would have done had he not been able to secure a spot in MIQ given places are now booked up until June, Menéndez March said he would have had to pay the consequences of that.
“I’m not going to get into the hypotheticals of this but for me family does come first.
“The sensitive nature of these circumstances would have meant that I would have explored all options to ensure that my colleagues were able to continue with the work.”
He said if he had been required to stay in Mexico to look after family he would have been prepared to resign as MP.
Menéndez March said he has appreciated the “outpour of support” of people who understand the difficult situations that many New Zealanders will family overseas are being put through.
“I’m very grateful for the border control workers and the MIQ workers who keep us safe, but I do understand that the decision I was able to make comes from a place of privilege that not many people have the resources to ensure that they’re able to make such a short trip.”