Grandfather tangled in immigration net

By Simon Collins

After his wife died four years ago, Derek Bourner left a life's work behind in Britain and came to live next door to his daughter in the Waikato village of Eureka.

Cows graze on the farm across the road. It takes two minutes to walk from his small lifestyle block through a hedge to see his daughter Pauline Shed, her husband Mark and their two daughters aged 13 and 12.

"If I had written a letter in January 2005 [just before he came to New Zealand] saying where I would love to live," he said, "it would have been exactly this house I'm sitting in now."

There's only one thing wrong with the 77-year-old's idyllic existence: New Zealand's immigration laws.

Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove declined to intervene in the case, meaning Mr Bourner will have to return to Britain. Immigration officials say because he has two daughters in Britain and only one in New Zealand, the family's "centre of gravity" is considered to be Britain.

The fact that Mr Bourner's older sister came to the Waikato in 1946 and his brother in 1950, and that with their descendants and his own daughter's family he now has 53 close relatives in this country, does not count.

The immigration policy states that parents of New Zealand residents will be given residence only if they have "an equal or greater number of adult children living lawfully and permanently in New Zealand than any other single country".

"This latest appeal - I couldn't believe it," Mr Bourner said.

"All it said was what they had been saying all along about the 'centre of gravity'."

A plumber who eventually ran his own businesses in real estate, insurance and mechanical repairs, Mr Bourner and his late wife visited New Zealand about 20 times from 1974 and planned to retire here. But his wife contracted cancer and died in 2003.

Pauline and Mark Shed moved here in 1993. Mr Shed worked for Siemens and now runs his own business importing electrical goods, and Mrs Shed works for a Hamilton optician. They were the first to move in when the Manor Park subdivision began at Eureka 10 years ago.

On earlier visits, Mr Bourner saw the house he now lives in being built next door to them.

On the day he arrived to visit them again in early 2005, the house's owners put it on the market. Although he knew the immigration laws could be an issue, it was too good an opportunity to miss, and Mr Bourner bought the property.

He went back to England to settle his affairs there and returned to live in the house in July 2005.

The family consulted local MP Dianne Yates, who gave them the forms to apply for residence and confirmed that they had an application in process every time Mr Bourner's visitor's permit needed to be renewed. His current permit expires in July.

When they had exhausted all the processes within Immigration New Zealand, Ms Yates agreed last November to ask Mr Cosgrove to use his ministerial discretion to let Mr Bourner stay.

"I'm not asking New Zealand to support me by a cent," he said. He has two pensions from Britain, does not get New Zealand superannuation, and has private health insurance.

Mr Bourner has met a lady in his local church whom he wishes to marry. "I don't wish to marry her under the cloud that I'm marrying her to come to New Zealand," Mr Bourner said.

Ms Yates declined to comment. "It's out of my hands now," she said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Cosgrove denied that he was "ordering" Mr Bourner to leave. "The minister has just declined to intervene in the case."

Ruled out

* 77-year-old Englishman Derek Bourner has one adult daughter in NZ and two in Britain.

* He has to return to the UK because immigration rules mean his family's "centre of gravity" is in Britain.

* Mr Bourner says he's not asking the NZ taxpayer to support him. He gets two pensions from Britain and has private health insurance.

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