Having a cup of tea, reading books and doing jigsaw puzzles.

These are the simple things Whangārei teacher Juanita Craig is looking forward to doing as a family when her Canadian husband arrives in the country after eight months apart.

The Kamo High School teacher had started to believe her husband, Jimmy Lambert, would never be allowed in to the country after the partnership work visa he applied for was denied because he has multiple sclerosis, and he was consequently barred from even visiting the country.

But on Tuesday evening Craig received a phone call from Peter Elms, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) assistant general manager, who apologised and offered to grant Lambert a 12-month partnership work visa.


"We started to believe that was never going to happen. That Jimmy was never going to be granted access in to New Zealand again," Craig said.

"Now that he can come in and be part of our lives and we can reconnect as a family again, it feels whole and complete."

Craig - who is Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hau and Ngātiwai - moved to Whangārei from Canada in June last year with her two children, Etienne, 5, and Phoebe, 3.

The plan was for Lambert - who works for Canada's housing ministry - to also move over and work in Whangārei for the 12 to 18 months the family planned on staying.

But INZ told the family that despite Lambert's medical insurance saying it would cover the cost of his medicine, because he would need to use New Zealand facilities every six weeks to have it administered intravenously, it would be a burden on New Zealand's health system. Elms said the decision to not grant a medical waiver was a mistake.

"This decision was wrong and we have taken steps to put this matter right. INZ has now offered to grant a 12 month partnership work visa to Mr Lambert," he said.

Elms said INZ also recognised Lambert incurred costs when he tried to fly to New Zealand in October last year but was turned around in China, so they had waived the cost of the visa application and would be discussing flight details with the family.

Craig said there were lots of tears of joy on Tuesday night.


Etienne was happy; Phoebe asked if papa was coming now; and Lambert was filled with glee.

Craig said she's not sure when her husband will fly to New Zealand but couldn't wait to give him "a big hug".

"It's not important what we do, spending time with each other will be precious enough.

"We're so thankful we'll be able to have him here having a cup of tea, reading books, and we've got all these jigsaw puzzles," she said.

Elms said INZ would be reminding their immigration officers of the applicable immigration instructions when a partner of a New Zealand citizen needs a medical waiver.