A South African immigrant who faced deportation for being clinically obese says he has been given permission from the Government to stay in New Zealand for another 23 months.

The decision was made after Albert Buitenhuis submitted a medical report showing he has a four per cent risk of suffering a heart attack in the next five years.

Mr Buitenhuis and his wife Marthie, 47, emigrated from Pretoria to Christchurch six years ago and quickly got full-time work at a local restaurant.

But since applying for permanent residency more than two years ago, Mr Buitenhuis' 130kg bulk has held him back - despite losing 30kg in recent years.


Immigration New Zealand (INZ) rejected his application on May 1, saying his obesity coupled with a knee injury could place too big a strain on the health system.

INZ criteria decrees that an applicant's body mass index (BMI) must be under 35, but Mr Buitenhuis' BMI is 40, which makes him clinically obese.

Mr Buitenhuis said he was "stunned'' by the original decision, and lodged an appeal.

He and his wife hadn't been allowed to work since May 2 and were forced to leave their Christchurch home and move in with Mr Buitenhuis' sister in Auckland because they couldn't keep up with rent payments.