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New Zealand residency has been granted to Steve and Gail Webster after a prolonged battle with Immigration New Zealand.

“I am delighted my plea for granting this industrious couple New Zealand residency has finally been granted. Steve and Gail have both positively contributed to Nelson, Steve as a volunteer firefighter and Gail through her florist business and they will make great New Zealanders.”

The couple originally came to Nelson in 2012 under the entrepreneur category but the florist business was misrepresented and did not meet its turnover targets on time. The couple faced huge uncertainty regularly getting close to having to leave New Zealand. Steve’s work as a volunteer firefighter in Nelson’s 2019 fires triggered a 94,000 signature petition seeking he be allowed to stay.

Dr Smith received the reply yesterday to his latest plea on July 13 for an exception to policy for the Websters from the Associate Minister of Immigration Poto Williams saying “I have carefully considered your representations. I have decided to grant resident visas to Mr and Mrs Webster as an exception to instructions”. The process will now be completed by the couple having their application put through the normal process but now with the Ministerial exception.

“This positive outcome does show the power of petitions. It was difficult for the Minister of Immigration to ignore so many people seeing the common sense in this well settled family being able to remain in New Zealand. I thank the petition organiser Mr Ken Mahon, the 64,000 signatories and the Minister for the positive decision.  

“The Websters had wanted to expand their florist business but have been hesitant to do so when there has been no certainty over being able to stay in Nelson. The good news is that they will now be proceeding with advertising for additional staff at a time when Nelson needs every job possible.

“There are lessons for immigration policy in this Webster case. It is not fair for families to be left in limbo for years over whether they can stay in New Zealand or not. We need more timely decisions that give families, employers and businesses greater certainty.”

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