Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Plans for new family help lay grief to rest

Man whose wife and daughter were slain hopes to become dad again.

Dev Sangha knows nothing will ever replace the wife and daughter a killer took from him.

But last Tuesday, hope for a fresh start finally stepped out of Auckland Airport's international arrivals gate.

It was Amar, the woman who will help him begin a new life and, "God willing", he says, a new family.

The couple married in 2011, a year after Mr Sangha's wife Ravneet and daughter Anna, 2, were stabbed to death in a sustained and frenzied attack by Deepak Nagpal, a boarder at the family's Tauranga home.

Amar had helped Mr Sangha through some of the worst of his grief, but an immigration clause meant that she could not live with her new husband in New Zealand. Her residency application had been rejected because laws did not allow Mr Sangha to sponsor another wife.

Their reunion has finally come following a direct intervention by Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye.

"I'm now confident I can move my life forward," a beaming Mr Sangha told the Herald at his home, his wife beside him in New Zealand for the first time.

Only months ago, the former taxi driver and now bus driver faced the prospect of not being able to live with his wife in his adopted country.

The pair had met through family after Mr Sangha returned to India when he was still in the deepest throes of anguish over the slaying of his family.

He poured his heart out to Amar over two days. Soon after, the pair were engaged and making plans to settle in New Zealand.

They had not anticipated the lengthy and stressful battle that came after they applied for a visa for Mrs Sangha under a partner-based application.

Mr Sangha even had to provide his newspaper clippings with his former wife's death certificate as proof of her murder, bringing pain and heartbreak back to the surface.

When the application was eventually rejected, he considered ending his life. "It was very stressful, I was nowhere ... I didn't know what would happen."

But his immigration adviser, Manj Nagra, fought hard to get a result, and Mr Sangha contacted Ms Kaye, who looked into the case.

Letters were sent by numerous supporters - the Supreme Sikh Council of NZ and the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association among them.

Many more rallied around him when his plight was highlighted in the Weekend Herald in August.

With further consideration of the tragic circumstances, Mrs Sangha's application for permanent residency was approved.

Mr Nagra described his delight at the outcome, putting the case among his career highlights.

For Mrs Sangha, it meant the end of long, nightly phone conversations from the other side of the world.

While impressed at her new city - she's already been taken on a tour of Mt Maunganui's beaches - she said home was simply where her husband is. "I'm happy with him, wherever we live."

Their immediate plans include children, and opening a local cricket academy dedicated to the memory of Ravneet and Anna.

"She should be 5 today," Mr Sangha said of his murdered daughter.

"I think we will enjoy the future ... but my past will always remain somewhere in the heart."

- NZ Herald

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