The family of a man who drowned in Hawke's Bay are appealing to the Government to allow his widow to re-enter New Zealand, so she can "pick up the pieces" from their former life together.

On January 14 Hemin Limbachiya, 26, drowned at Waimarama beach after he and his wife, Tanvi Bhavsar, were caught in a flash rip and swept out to sea.

The Indian nationals had made New Zealand their home, living here for several years before moving to Napier in 2016.

Last month Ms Bhavsar travelled back to India with Hemin's body for his cultural cremation, but now fears she will be barred from re-entering New Zealand.


Her residency application was about halfway through the process when the drowning occurred, and she held a work visa which expires in September.

However, as both were dependant on her husband's visas, she was told they were effectively "null and void" after his death, in advice from Immigration New Zealand, and several lawyers.

"My biggest fear is due this unfortunate and unforeseen accident I will be barred to enter New Zealand," she said.

"All my dreams of a better life and my real opportunity to be able to move on with life in light of this tragic accident will be shattered."

The 27-year-old said if she was unable to enter New Zealand and return to the home she shared with her late husband, she would not be able to recover from his death.

Her brother, Prashin Kumar, said their family was appealing to the Government and Immigration New Zealand to allow Ms Bhavsar to return to New Zealand on humanitarian grounds so she could "fight for her chance to stay here".

"This tragedy has ended her dreams, it's ended her normal life," he said. "It took one life, and now could destroy Tanvi's because she cannot come back to her home, she cannot move on with her life."

"No one could have ever foreseen this. We wish, every day that January 14 had never happened. We can't take it back, but we can do this to turn things around for Tanvi".

Her family were not certain Ms Bhavsar would be rejected if she tried to enter the country, but worried the emotional strain of being barred would be too much for her.

"Tanvi would be devastated. We didn't expect it would be a battle for her to come back. It's been a major setback for her that she can't."

As well as asking the Government, and Immigration New Zealand to allow her to re-enter the country, and give her options to stay, Mr Kumar asked all New Zealanders to "support Tanvi in her fight to rehabilitate and move on with a normal life in New Zealand in light of this tragic accident which has shaken up all our lives".

Immigration NZ confirmed Ms Bhavsar was granted a 12 months' work visa under partnership. It could not confirm yet whether she would be able to re-enter the country.

Immigration NZ Area Manager Marcelle Foley said INZ "would like to offer its condolences to Tanvi Bhavsar for her loss".

"Following her partner's death INZ is endeavouring to contact Ms Bhavsar about her visa options".

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway said the minister did not comment on individual cases, and could not comment on this case until a decision had been made.

A spokeswoman for associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said there was no current request for ministerial intervention.

Mr Kumar said since moving here, Tanvi had worked, studied, and "invested in New Zealand".

The couple had moved to New Zealand for a better, safer quality of life. They were also attracted by the country's art opportunities, as Ms Bhavsar dreamed of becoming an artist.

She had studied at the Media Design School in Auckland. As an art career was not as financially secure, the couple's plan was for Hemin to continuing working while Tanvi followed her dream - of working in animation, and holding exhibitions of her painting.

Since the funeral, Ms Bhavsar had been living with Hemin's family while in India, and helping them through their grief.

- A Givealittle page was started for Tanvi to pay off the couple's debt incurred in their Indian cultural marriage last year.