The latest refusal to allow the Jia family to stay in New Zealand has been dubbed "inhuman" and has sparked fresh fears for their safety if they are forced to return to China.
Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams has again rejected the family's pleas to stay in the country, despite three petitions signed by more than 3000 people in the Far North.
The well-known family from China, who help their son with his thriving strawberry and watermelon business in the Bay of Islands, are concerned for their wellbeing if they return to their homeland, where they say they suffered religious and economic persecution.
Kerikeri Baptist Church pastor Stuart Angus – who started the petitions – said the recent rejection letter was "a slap in the face."
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"Over 3000 signatures have been sent to the Government, with supporting letters from the mayor, local MP, the Strawberry Growers New Zealand, the school, the church and their landlord," he said.
"All of these letters attest to their character, their industry, work ethic, generosity and commitment to the community. The family is now really anxious for their future.
"If we sent them back to China now it would be an appalling lack of respect for human rights. It would break this family.
"With the present climate of religious intolerance and the health concerns in China with coronavirus, I believe it would be an inhuman act."
Peter and Lina and their 10-year-old daughter Cici, from Waimate North, have been battling for several years to stay in the country after numerous applications and appeals have been declined by Immigration New Zealand and the Immigration Protection Tribunal.
The couple's son Jerry Jia initially sponsored his family to New Zealand in 2016 on visitor visas.
Last August Northland MP Matt King appealed to Williams asking for work visas for Peter and Lina and a student visa for Cici.
Williams said she would not intervene and referred the family to the immigration compliance operations group who "strongly encouraged" them to leave the country by November 29.
A petition signed by more than 600 people in the community was then delivered by King to Williams' office again asking for intervention, which was also declined.
Further petitions with more than 2000 signatures and six support letters - including letters from Far North mayor John Carter and the chairman of Strawberry Growers New Zealand – were recently sent to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
But on January 28 Angus received a letter stating; "The minister, or a delegated decision-maker, has previously declined to intervene in this case and ... will not be reviewing the matter."
Angus said this was disheartening but "we still want to do everything we can to keep this family here".
"They're wonderful, they're an inspiration and we want to keep them.
"They have a clearly identifiable future here in New Zealand. Their son is a permanent resident, their daughter speaks better English than she does Chinese – this family are loved in the community.
"Before the last election Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters were happy to have their photos taken with the family in their business environment – now they've refused the family the right to stay in this country."
Jerry said the family, with help from the church, would keep trying.
"It's very disappointing," he said.
"The number of signatures from people in the community is large; I'm quite sad about the decision."
King said Williams' refusal to intervene in favour of the Jia family was "disappointing".
"The community has been behind Peter and Lina the whole way – this is a perfect opportunity for the Minister to use her discretion."
The Jia family are "the sort of people we want in New Zealand", King said.
"Community-focused small business owners who contribute to our regional economies are valuable.
"This is not the sort of treatment these well-loved members of our community deserve."
Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams has been approached for comment.