There was heartbreak, tears and anger on the steps of Parliament as New Zealand's split family migrant community shared stories of how the border rules affected their lives.
Iresha Wijetunga arrived from Sri Lanka in February last year, with dreams of a better life with her husband and two young children.
The quantity surveyor gained the appropriate visa, but the paperwork for her husband and children took a bit longer.
They were approved at the beginning of March 2020 but by the time they were ready to leave, New Zealand had shut its border.
Through tears, her hands shaking, Wijetunga stood next to Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi and said she and thousands of others in similar situations understood why New Zealand's borders were tight, but they just needed some hope.
"We know it will take some time, but we just want to know that it will happen. We are waiting patiently through our suffering."
She spoke of the pain of not seeing her daughter, now 10, and son, now 6, for well over a year.
"My daughter she is now at an age when she needs to live with her mother."
She also spoke of the difficulty seeing the Government announce allocations for more construction workers to come into the country with their families, while she, a construction worker herself, could not see her own.
Several others shared the myriad ways New Zealand's "broken" immigration system had kept their families apart, as Faafoi stood and listened.
Chants of "bring, bring, bring them back" erupted at times from tearful family members, and loud and at times angry cries of "shame" could be heard as Faafoi responded on behalf of the Government.
Many protested the hypocrisy they saw in the Government letting in sports teams and performers like The Wiggles, but not their loved ones.
Others complained about spare spaces going in MIQ, and called for a reform of the allocation processes to ensure all spaces were used.
The protest was attended by more than 100 people - most migrants with their own unique stories of heartbreak - and about 20 MPs, including from Labour, National, the Greens and Act.
It was organised by recently formed collective Federation of Aotearoa Migrants, which has also been holding vigils across the country this week to put pressure on the Government over its immigration policies.
Their requests included developing a pathway for migrants stranded overseas to come back, providing residence to those stuck here to give them more security, detach visas from employers, unite separated families, and allocate more resources to Immigration New Zealand to fix the backlog of cases.
The protest was ahead of a debate in the House over New Zealand's Covid-19 border policy and the impact it was having on families.
National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford said the way split migrant families were treated was "nothing short of disgusting".
"We knew there would be a few months. .There is no reason they are still separated from their families."
She highlighted the hypocrisy that there were exemptions for certain types of workers, such as those earning over $107,000, or certain groups of nurses and construction workers.
"Do they miss their families more?"
She said there needed to be a roadmap for reunification, and the long residency queue fixed.
Faafoi acknowledged the difficulties they were facing, and the anxiety and stress.
"But these are extraordinary times, with unprecedented restrictions on travel across the world."
He said he understood the Government's measures had caused difficulties and were disappointing, but reiterated the tight border measures were essential to keeping Covid-19 out of New Zealand.
"In the year before nearly 7 million came across [the border], in the year following there were 226,000 arrivals, so 2 per cent of before the border closed.
"That decision was based on science and strong public health advice."
This was what was allowing New Zealand to slowly return to some normalcy and he said
"everyday" he was looking at more ways they could open the borders further without compromising safety.
As the vaccine rollout continued these opportunities would increase, he said.
"But we need to be realistic, others say open the borders to everyone who has family here. It is not that simple, outside the travel bubbles almost every border entry carries a potential risk of Covid, and keeping a tight control on that is what is keeping us safe."