Prime Minister Jim Bolger says he does not want Jan Smith, a former leader of the South African chapter of the Church of the Creator, which is dedicated to white supremacy, to reside in this multi-racial country. But Minister of Immigration Roger Maxwell ruled on Friday that he could find no legal grounds to deport him.
Dr Smith, who is said to have a degree in nuclear physics, arrived in Auckland on 7 May, having been granted permanent residence by an immigration officer in London. His application had been forwarded by a private consultancy firm. New Zealand does not have an immigration office in South Africa, and neither Dr Smith nor his wife was interviewed. They were given a clean bill of health in a routine police check.
It was when they arrived here that newspapers revealed Dr Smith's past - as well as his authorship of such gems as, 'Know that the biological and cultural heritage of the white race is threatened by our deadly race enemies - Jews, kaffirs and the mud races.'
The reports caused an uproar and led to demands for the Smiths to be deported. A group called Stop White South Africans Today (Swat) mounted a protest march on the Smiths' Auckland house, where Maoris and Pacific Islanders hammered on the door and invited him to come out and meet 'the mud races'.
The Swat team is headed by leaders of the former Halt All Racist Tours (Hart) organisation, which fought a long battle against New Zealand rugby exchanges with South Africa. It had previously expressed concern at the number of white South Africans migrating to New Zealand, accusing them of fleeing democracy.
Swat leader John Minto said in February: 'They have been content to live in South Africa only while they benefited from apartheid. Now that democracy is developing, they are keen to continue their white-centred lives elsewhere. They are a serious social pestilence in multicultural New Zealand.'
He described the arrival of Dr Smith as realising all the organisation's worst fears about the introduction of South African racists into New Zealand.
The rise in South African immigration into New Zealand has been dramatic. In the run- up to South Africa's first non- racial election, several polls indicated that New Zealand had become the first choice of destination for fearful whites who wanted to leave the country. During the whole of last year, 2,799 South Africans were admitted. In the first four months of this year, more than 1,600 arrived, and the numbers show no sign of abating - a trend that worries some in a small country whose own race relations are delicately balanced.
Since a 1991 change in policy introduced a points system, grading applicants on educational qualifications, work experience, age and 'settlement factors' (such as how much money they have), there has also been an influx of Asians, whose wealth and ostentatious choices of homes and cars have produced an anti-immigrant backlash, especially in Auckland, the country's biggest city.
Mr Maxwell admits that the government welcomes South Africans, and the continuing flow of Britons, as giving 'a better balance of people from around the world'. South Africans, he said, did not need interviewing because they spoke English, a basic requirement for immigrants.
After reviewing the Smiths' case, the minister said he had no legal reasons to revoke their residents' permit. Although the 'abhorrent' white-supremacy comments that Dr Smith had reportedly made in South Africa would be illegal under New Zealand's Human Rights Act, he had not uttered them in this country.
While he would not order a return to the former practice of personal interviews for every immigrant, Mr Maxwell had instructed his officials to 'strengthen the character checks' on all applicants - not just South Africans.
In the meantime, Mr Minto promises a concerted campaign to hound Dr Smith out of New Zealand. 'What place is there in a multi-racial society for someone who has organised and promoted racial hatred?' he asks. 'In no way is he fit to be a citizen of this country.'