Wannabe Napier residents Patrick and Doris Boucher have been spent the past six years of their lives in "limbo".

For six months of the year they're about 18 metres away from New Zealand shores. But for the other six months they live about 18,000km away.

The grandparents are now preparing for yet another lengthy flight back to Germany this week, forced away from their family and friends by NZ's ever-changing immigration system.

The Bouchers, who live on a sailing boat docked in Ahuriri when they're allowed back to Napier, entered the Expressions of Interest (EOI) for New Zealand residency under the Parent Category in 2013.

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Their two sons, married to New Zealanders, live in Napier with their children.

But an Immigration NZ spokesperson said although it was still accepting expressions of interest, no applications were being selected from the pool.

"The government decided to close it 2016 - we're just awaiting the next decision on what will happen."

The Bouchers live on a sailing boat docked in Ahuriri when they're allowed back to Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor
The Bouchers live on a sailing boat docked in Ahuriri when they're allowed back to Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor

The Bouchers signed a petition to lift the moratorium on the Parent Category Immigration visa application in 2018 and it was presented to Parliament on February 12 this year.

They're currently on a "Grandparents Visa" which means they can stay six months at a time in New Zealand, with a maximum total stay of 18 months in three years.

In a letter to Immigration New Zealand, they wrote they had no immediate family connections left in Germany and Napier was the place they felt at home and most welcome.

"We're members of the sailing club, the coast guard, and live aboard our own sailing boat.

"We both have our own retirement funds and health insurance, at present we are both in good health."

Their letters to Immigration New Zealand remain unanswered, they said.

They resorted to contacting MPs, including Napier's Stuart Nash, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway and Customs Minister Kris Faafoi.

Nash responded and one of Boucher's sons will meet him on his parents' behalf next week, as they will be on a flight back to Germany.

Nash wrote a letter of support for their application saying "the Boucher family are high calibre citizens of our region and parents Patrick and Doris Boucher would be valued assets and warmly welcomed as residents under the Parent Category. I wish them every success".

Patrick and Doris Boucher have been wanting to move to New Zealand for years, but their residency application has stalled. Photo / Paul Taylor
Patrick and Doris Boucher have been wanting to move to New Zealand for years, but their residency application has stalled. Photo / Paul Taylor

Their daughter-in-law Louise Taotahi said her family had been trying to help them gain permanent residency for at least five years.

"We have a long-term plan where both sets of parents would live in with us in add-on buildings where they would not be reliant on any monetary help from this government," she wrote.

Patrick Boucher said if anything they were costing Germany more money than they would New Zealand.

"We are on the pension in Germany and yet we don't spend any money there, all our money is spent in New Zealand when we come and visit. We would just stay on the boat and then when the time comes, move in with our own family.

"It's wonderful coming back to New Zealand because everyone knows us and always say 'oh you've come home!' There are a lot of people visiting from Europe and we're just so happy to show them around because we love Hawke's Bay, especially Napier."

But for now, the frustrating wait continues. They'll be back again in October.

"We would just like a simple answer when it comes to residency, it would just make life so much easier. It's just the waiting in limbo which is the hardest for us."