A Sri Lankan family who won the support of the Queenstown community in their fight against deportation have been given a reprieve. They will be allowed to stay in New Zealand for another year.
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has been supporting the family, Dinesha Amarasinghe, Sam Wijerathne and their three boys Senath, Subath and Binath. He said the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) ruled they could stay in New Zealand for the next year on humanitarian grounds, while their residence application was assessed.
"I called Dinesha and Sam this morning – they were both very emotional and so was I.
"Dinesha and Sam have worked incredibly hard to support their children and give them a bright future in New Zealand and this is the outcome they deserve," Walker said.
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The family have lived in New Zealand for eight years but faced deportation after Dinesha's application for a work visa renewal was declined due to health issues. Their residency application, submitted in 2013, is on hold.
More than 400 people in the Queenstown community marched in November to support the family.
"It was incredibly humbling to see the way people came together to show compassion and an outpouring of love for a family that they respect and we want as part of the Queenstown community," Walker said.
"The Wijerathne family are respected members of the Queenstown community and an example of how migrant workers living, working, and contributing to our communities in positive ways are so valuable to New Zealand, and especially communities like Queenstown and Te Anau."
There was still a lot to do however.
"While today's result is absolutely fantastic, the solution is only temporary and the family still need to seek residency.
"We have won a battle, but not the war and I'll continue to support them through this process and keep the pressure on the Minister."