COVID-19: Auckland Buddhist temple goes eight months without a monk after INZ application rejected

A Buddhist temple has gone eight months without a monk after efforts to get a replacement were thwarted by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

The Auckland Centre for Buddhist Learning says all attempts to replace former monk Ven Anuruddha Thero, who left the role for personal reasons in March 2021, have been unsuccessful due to the COVID-19 border closure.

In a letter to members, the temple's trust board said it had made an application to INZ for a replacement monk, but it was declined due to the current border settings.

"We have received instructions to make a fresh application for a monk after the borders are opened. Until that time, we continue to operate at low profile," it read.

"In the interim, we have conducted a few seela Pinkama [Buddhist rituals] with the assistance of venerable Buddhist Monks of our sister temples. We are very grateful to venerable monks who have assisted the Centre during this difficult times (sic) in the continuation of activities."

The trust board went on to explain that this arrangement would continue until a monk from Sri Lanka, who is willing to travel to New Zealand, takes up the role "in due course".

New Zealand's international border has been closed to people in most countries since March 2020, except for residents willing to go through our managed isolation and quarantine programme.

There was a brief period during which quarantine-free travel corridors between New Zealand and both Australia and the Cook Islands were established, but these were scuppered by the emergence of Delta on both sides of the Tasman.

From January 16 next year, fully vaccinated Kiwis and residence visa holders in Australia can travel to New Zealand, while Kiwis and residence visa holders from the majority of other countries will be allowed in the country from February 13.

New Zealand's borders will reopen in stages to people not in these groups from April 30, 2022 onwards.