Dunedin woman Zhian Eli's two-and-a-half year struggle to get her elderly parents out of Canada has taken a tragic twist with the death of her father at the weekend.

On Saturday the Herald published the plight of Zhian and her family, who have endured a range of medical and legal setbacks which have left the elderly parents marooned in an Edmonton hospital and Zhian forced to return to New Zealand or face deportation.

The family had visited Canada on what was meant to be a stopover before going to Iraq.

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Zhian made her situation public in the hope of finding help so she could either move her parents home or join them in Canada.

Her father, Ali Majid, 85, who had dementia, died at the weekend, Zhian said.

"There is nothing I can do now, it has happened, but Mum is my concern now.''

Dunedin woman Zhian Eli, home in New Zealand and unable to care for her parents who are stranded in Canada. Photo / Otago Daily Times / Peter McIntosh
Dunedin woman Zhian Eli, home in New Zealand and unable to care for her parents who are stranded in Canada. Photo / Otago Daily Times / Peter McIntosh

Majid's wife, Mahieh Amin, 86, is also seriously ill and has been told she cannot fly until after an operation for cancer - a disease diagnosed after she suffered a heart attack shortly after arriving in Edmonton.

"I just want to be with her. It is inhuman right now,'' Zhian said.

"She just lost someone who she has been together with for 70 years; she is in a room far from home by herself with no-one to talk to - it is just inhuman.''

The family are New Zealand citizens, having come to this country in 1997 as refugees from Iraq.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the New Zealand consulate in Canada was helping the family.

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If asked, New Zealand embassies overseas and Mfat can help following the death of a New Zealand citizen overseas, including advising on local funeral options and the repatriation of remains or ashes to New Zealand.

Zhian said her father would be buried in Canada, as soon as possible.

"My mum said don't upset his soul and put other people under stress, and to bury him there,'' she said.

"They are doing that on Monday or Tuesday, but they have to get permission.''

The Canadian High Commission in New Zealand declined to comment when contacted, citing Canadian privacy laws.