Trev Ponting could be back in New Zealand by Thursday, after MIQ reversed a decision which would have left the dying Kiwi stranded overseas.
Japan-based Ponting has terminal brain cancer, and all he wants is to get home to see his mother. But an initial application for emergency spots in managed isolation for the 46-year-old, his wife Aiko and their two young children was turned down yesterday.
Just before 6pm tonight, the family found out that decision had been reversed, Ponting's ecstatic sister, Yvonne Ponting, told the Herald.
"I'm absolutely relieved and overwhelmed and excited and scared. I haven't got enough words, I'm running out of thank yous for all the people who supported us."
She'd already spoken to her brother via video call, which she described as "emotional".
"He's aware but he needs reminding because his short-term memory is shot. But he knows he's coming home.
"He said something like, 'I've been told that I'm coming home' and we said, 'Yeah you are, bro. Yeah you are'."
The initial decision turning down the family of four prompted a plea for help from Ponting's Christchurch-based family, particularly after it emerged children's entertainment group The Wiggles had hurriedly been granted MIQ spots for 12 of their crew ahead of a nationwide tour.
Ponting, who has lived in Japan for 20 years, had told them his dying wish was "to be with his mum", Yvonne Ponting said.
"He has said to us: 'I just want to be with my mum'."
The race was now on to get the couple and their kids on the earliest flight home as possible, which at this stage may be a Singapore Airlines flight leaving on Wednesday and arriving in Auckland on Thursday, Yvonne Ponting said.
"He would've been flying to New Zealand today if we'd got [the emergency MIQ spots] the first time. That's caused a delay of five days, but we have to now move past that."
The only disappointment was that the "team from Japan" helping the family couldn't be in New Zealand as well.
"They've been amazing."
She wanted to thank everyone who had supported the family since Ponting's plight went public.
"This took everybody's effort."
Ponting has been living in Japan for the past few years, where he works as a ski instructor.
In 2019, around Christmas time, he received devastating news that several tumours had been found in his brain.
He underwent surgery to remove the tumours and spent 72 days in hospital that year.
A long recovery process awaited him and the family sought to try to move to New Zealand after new tumours were found about September last year - but then of course the world had turned upside down due to Covid-19.
His doctors have now told him he will have only a few months to live.
Ponting's heartbreaking story led to a huge backlash over the decision, with thousands of posters on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook calling on the Government and those running MIQ to reverse the earlier decision.