A new link between Maurice Williamson and Donghua Liu has emerged in letters that show the senior MP lobbied two ministerial colleagues to intervene in the residency bid of the businessman's partner.
Juan Zhang has two New Zealand-born children with Liu and works as a finance manager in his property development company, which owns 20,000sq m of prime land in the heart of Auckland
The couple have remained living together in a $3.5 million home in Remuera, even after Liu admitted assaulting Ms Zhang, 32. He was due to be sentenced last month but has now applied to vacate his previous guilty plea.
Maurice Williamson. Photo / Brett Phibbs
A series of Herald articles have detailed Mr Williamson's links to Liu, a National Party donor, which culminated in his resignation as a minister when it was revealed he phoned a senior police officer about the domestic violence charges.
Documents released under the Official Information Act show Mr Williamson wrote letters to ministerial colleagues after Immigration Service officials declined Ms Zhang's application for permanent residence.
One to Kate Wilkinson, the Associate Immigration Minister in 2012, asked her to grant residency as Ms Zhang worked for Liu's development company Roncon Pacific which had invested significantly in New Zealand and specifically noted Prime Minister John Key had opened the Boulevard Hotel.
Mr Williamson said the company's managing director - without naming Donghua Liu - wanted a small group of "his own people" involved in future projects and "specifically identified" Ms Zhang as someone he had faith and trust in.
The MP did not mention she was the mother of two children with Liu, who is a New Zealand citizen.
In response, Ms Wilkinson did not overturn the residency decision but did grant a three-year work visa and waived the need for medical and police clearance certificates.
Mr Williamson wrote a second letter in support of Ms Zhang last December, this time to Nikki Kaye, who had taken over the responsibilities of Associate Immigration Minister. He again noted the large investment of Roncon Pacific in New Zealand, the Prime Minister opening the hotel and Ms Wilkinson granting the extended work visa.
"She has two young children that are New Zealand citizens and I believe that her long-term future lies in New Zealand.
"I believe that an exception to policy should be made for Ms Zhang."
Mr Williamson, who was recently re-elected as the MP for Pakuranga with a majority of 11,905, did not return messages asking for comment.
Investigations by the Herald have shown Liu made connections with MPs from both sides of politics.
Labour MP Damien O'Connor, the Associate Immigration Minister at the time, intervened three times in Liu's residency bid and granted the application the day before the 2005 election.
For full coverage of the Donghua Liu case, go to: tinyurl.com/donghualiu