Teen gets out of Raro – only to be trapped in Auckland airport

Sunday March 22, 2020 Written by Published in Health
Caja Heinrich boards a flight at Rarotonga Airport yesterday, with mum Andrea and dad Michael. Caja Heinrich boards a flight at Rarotonga Airport yesterday, with mum Andrea and dad Michael. 20032223

The 19-year-old au pair who was stranded in Rarotonga this weekend is now trapped on her own in Auckland International Airport transit. And Immigration NZ won’t even answer the phone. 'It's like a prison,' she says.

At the weekend, teenager Caja Heinrich became the face of the travel bans shutting down flights around the world. 

The young German au pair, on holiday in Cook Islands, told her story to Cook Islands News. She had been barred from leaving here, by New Zealand closing its borders.

The 19-year-old, who had been working as an au pair for Aucklanders Scott and Rebecca La Franchie, looking after their two-year-old daughter Katie, had met up with her parents for a holiday in Rarotonga. They had flights back to Germany; she was planning to return to Auckland.

Yesterday, after a tumultuous few days culminating in a tearful final few hours, she was allowed to fly out on a long, complicated trip home that would take her from Rarotonga to transit through Auckland with her parents, then on her own to Singapore and ultimately, her hometown of Büdelsdorf.

Air New Zealand’s country manager Marisa Newman and her team worked for hours to help Caja, her parents and other trapped foreign nationals get approval to board the flight to Auckland, yesterday morning – even keeping the plane on the tarmac for an extra two-and-a-half hours while they woke up embassies around the world.

There were hours of tears and frustration.

Finally, Caja was allowed to board NZ19 to Auckland, with her parents – but then things got even worse.

She tried to get on the same plane as her parents via Singapore, but it was full. They left, knowing she had a ticket on the next flight – but then, Singapore closed its borders.

She was trapped.

Outside airport security, Scott La Franchie was pleading with officials to be allowed to help her, or even just to see her; Rebecca had been trying to raise Immigration NZ officials on the phone. But the line would just go dead.

Last night, Cook Islands News spoke to her at Auckland Airport, where she was facing a sleepless night alone.

“It’s like a prison,” she said.

“They are cancelling more and more, the flights to Germany are getting less and less. 

“I’m on my own. I can’t find a way to get out of here.”


  • Comment Link Puna Paretoa Sunday, 29 March 2020 05:08 posted by Puna Paretoa

    Test the young lady she hasn't hif the virus let her go

  • Comment Link Nb Tuesday, 24 March 2020 09:47 posted by Nb

    Test her covid19....if she doesn't have it let her in...she's stuck, on her own and scared!! She'd actually be safer in NZ.

  • Comment Link TEREAPII KIMIORA Monday, 23 March 2020 17:29 posted by TEREAPII KIMIORA

    hi if you are stuck call me on this number
    64 27 217 5460 maybe I can help you i am rarotongan living in NZ,if you are in NZ call me anyway you can stay with me till all flights
    are free, my name is Apii, 60 yrs old, i have very nice home in the country,call me if you are stuck out there.i am hoping someone will help you for a place to stay for free please do not trust anyone and just be careful do not loose your mobile
    send me your email address you can use my number for tracking if you are in trouble any kind abuse please use it we will find you.


    tereapii kimiora pera maurangi


    To all people in Rarotonga please eat chicken and fish only till no more corona viruse, cook it in any way you like it,pumkin,potato,taro, maniota, green banana, potato, kumara, rice, are all good food. Do not use cow, goat milk,cereal weetbix and all others no bread at same time, no process food if you cannot use the toilet please eat water melon drink fresh orange juice,both are a must hygene is a must. any kind of our cherry fruit at home there are 4 kind at home in masters.DONT IGNORE THIS ITS YOUR LIFE SAVER BY FOR NOW HEAR FROM ME IN THREE DAYS

    BE GOOD,

    TOTKPM, 64 27217546O, TAUMARANUI.
    Coming home soon.

  • Comment Link Sharil Monday, 23 March 2020 01:03 posted by Sharil

    Hi I work as a nurse at the airport. It's my night off but I am willing to come and pick the young lady up and she can stay at my place free of charge with food. Please contact me I am awake. thanks

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