One of the reasons Immigration New Zealand declined the partnership visa of a Māori elder's wife is because they could not provide support letters from their dead parents.

Tuakau Taka, 59, married Filipina Maria Alma Yu, 49, in Auckland in 2016, but the agency refused to grant Yu a visa because it didn't believe their relationship was genuine.

Immigration adviser Tuariki Delamere, a former immigration minister, has offered to take up their case after reading their plight in the Herald.

"I have met them, spoken with them and believe their relationship is 100 per cent genuine," Delamere said.

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"Immigration New Zealand on the other hand seem to be making decisions based on the opinions of their totally incompetent officers."

In a decline letter to the couple, the agency wrote: "The evidence you have provided with your application does not appear to demonstrate the degree of commitment to a shared life and also the reputation and public aspects of your relationship - there is no letter of support from both of your parents..."

Delamere said the letter clearly showed "shoddy work" and that the deciding officer had not thoroughly looked at all the supporting documents provided.

"Both of Tuakau's parents are deceased, and Maria's father is also no longer around," Delamere said.

Delamere said he would be writing to Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi asking him to reconsider his decision on the matter.

Faafoi said he was not prepared to intervene in the case after having "carefully considered the representations".

"I'm going to tell him that my client, Mr Taka, has been going to church regularly, praying to God to open up heaven so that mum and dad can send him the support letters," Delamere said.

"His wife's father, well he's up there too, so maybe he can write a support letter too and send it down to Immigration New Zealand from heaven's post office."

INZ's letter said also that the marriage certificate and tenant summary report from Housing New Zealand the couple provided was not enough evidence to demonstrate the duration of their relationship.

"It is absurd that documents issued by New Zealand authorities, like a marriage certificate and Housing NZ reports, are not being recognised as legitimate by INZ," Delamere added.

In a letter dated May 31, Faafoi said Yu was in New Zealand unlawfully and encouraged her to depart voluntarily or risked becoming subject to a period of prohibition on entry and be liable for her deportation cost.

"She would then be able to apply for a visa from offshore based on his [sic] relationship with Mr Taka, although I can give no guarantee of a successful outcome," Faafoi said.

Immigration manager Michael Carley had last week told the Herald the agency "is unable to provide any further comment" after the minister declined to intervene.

Carley said Yu's application for a partnership work visa was declined in March because INZ was not satisfied hat she met requirements for a partnership work visa.

Taka was introduced to Yu in 2015 when he was a student doing a diploma in healthcare level 5 at the Auckland Goldstar Institute.

Taka, who hails from Ngāpuhi, Ngātiwai and Tainui iwi, says as a Māori elder or kaumātua, Yu has gained the title of kuia - or a female elder - through marriage.

He believed that this would have given her the automatic right to remain in New Zealand.