Coronavirus: Nanaia Mahuta refusing to send repatriation flights to Kiwis stuck in India

The Foreign Affairs Minister is refusing to send mercy flights to India to rescue New Zealanders stranded there as COVID-19 engulfs the country, saying now is not the time.

Nanaia Mahuta has also stopped short of offering assurances that our High Commission in Delhi has the medical supplies it needs to keep staff safe after it sent an urgent SOS on Twitter for oxygen.

"We're not in a position to repatriate anyone at this particular time," she said on Tuesday.

India is nearing breaking point. It's short of oxygen, medical supplies, COVID vaccines, and now even wood to cremate the dead.

There are at least 583 Kiwis in India with no way out, including Manish Bansal, whose wife spoke to Newshub last weekend.

"The negative feelings keep coming so until he gets here they'll keep coming like that," Preeti Bansal says.

As the pandemic first grasped the world, officials helped organise more than 100 repatriation flights. But now, as India hits new horrific COVID-19 records every day, Mahuta is refusing to send a plane.

Not only that, but she also isn't rushing to send supplies to New Zealand's High Commission in Delhi, despite a staffer begging on Twitter for black market oxygen to treat one of the seven staff members sick with COVID-19.

"My understanding is [the High Commission is] working with what they have and they'll use the proper channels in the event that they don't," she says.

It's not the only diplomatic juggle Mahuta is managing this week.

She is at odds with the Trade Minister as to why the Government won't be voting to support a declaration of genocide against Uighur people in China. She says it isn't trade, but Damien O'Connor says it is.

"No doubt it would have some impact [on New Zealand's trade with China]. It's hardly rocket science," he says.

No aerospace engineering was needed to decode the Chinese ambassador's shot across the bow on Monday either.

"The so-called forced labour or genocide in Xinjiang are totally lies and rumours," Wu Xi said.

She was urging New Zealand not to "interfere with China's internal affairs".

These are major tests for Mahuta. The UK and Canadian parliaments have voted in favour of declaring genocide in Xinjiang, and our Parliament is expected to debate it on Wednesday.