Friday, April 24, 2009

Bestselling author faces battle for NZ residency

The Dominion Post reported today international best selling author Marina Lewycka of "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian fame" is trying - unsuccessfully it would seem - to gain New Zealand residency.

She and her kiwi husband (she clearly has good taste) have been together for 34 years, married for 22 and have a 32-year-old daughter together. Marina splits her time between their home in Wanganui where she writes her books in the NZ summers and Sheffield, England. Because of her promotional obligations as an author, and her husband David Feickert's job as an international coalmine safety adviser, the couple are rarely in New Zealand at the same time for a long period.

And therein lies the problem. Immigration Service have told the couple they had to prove they are in a relationship by providing copies of their email correspondence, and by living together for an unspecified amount of time in New Zealand.

C'mon NZ Immigration!! This is our chance to claim an amazing author for ourselves, as let's face it everyone else (particularly the Aussies) are fond of doing it to us.

Below is the full article from the Dom Post's Simon Wood which I was delighted to read mentions that Marina has a new book, "We Are All Made of Glue," due out in the middle of the year. As a long time Marina Lewycka fan, I shall definitely be buying!


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A popular author whose work focuses on the challenges faced by migrants is fighting a real-life battle to gain New Zealand residency.

Marina Lewycka, who wrote the international bestseller A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans, wants to join her husband of 22 years, Dave Feickert, in Wanganui.

Mr Feickert said the Immigration Service had told the couple they had to prove they were in a relationship by providing copies of their email correspondence, and by living together for an unspecified amount of time in New Zealand.

They have been together since 1975 and have a 32-year-old daughter, Sonia.

"How utterly ridiculous," Lewycka said. "I thought New Zealand was a 'can do' society."

Because of her promotional obligations as an author, and Mr Feickert's job as an international coalmine safety adviser, the couple are rarely in New Zealand at the same time for a long period.

Lewycka lives in Sheffield, England, where she is preparing for the publication of her third book, We Are All Made of Glue, in July.

She has spent the last five summers in Wanganui and writes her books at the house she shares with Mr Feickert while in New Zealand.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which has sold millions of copies, tells of two Ukrainian sisters who grew up in England. Two Caravans details the lives of migrant strawberry pickers.

Lewycka was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany to Ukrainian parents after World War II and was taken to England when she was three months old.

Mr Feickert described the situation as Kafkaesque.

"To me it's just completely absurd. I know they have rules they have to follow ... but why go through all the rigmarole of rejecting someone like Marina?"

He did not think the couple's situation was unusual in the modern world, and said his wife wanted to become a Kiwi.

"She loves New Zealand and it's as simple as that."

After inquiries from The Dominion Post yesterday, a senior Immigration Service official in Palmerston North told Mr Feickert the couple no longer had to live together in New Zealand for a set period, and said they had to provide only an email heading rather than full copies of their correspondence.

The Immigration Service would not comment yesterday.

4 comments:

Katie said...

Mental.

rachel said...

oh for goodness sake!

Café Chick said...

I read this article with interest. My brother had to send in multiple copies of 80-page forms to immigration in order to gain a one-year work permit (and then residency) for his partner to move to NZ. She was due to be deported two days after their son was born ... madness! They gave her a two-year work permit because they expected the process for residency to take at least 10 months to process. And then you look at some people who sail through residency applications and you wonder how????

pau de canela said...

I can understand both sides of this story. First time I read it, my reaction was "oh for goodness sake, they have an adult daughter together!". But then I got to think about it and realised that Immigration does need to follow a set of rules (trust me, I'm not defending them... I know, from my personal experience, that, most of the time, they're totally hopeless and seem to make the most random decisions).

I've gone through the process of asking for a work visa based on my partnership with a NZer twice now and both times I had to give them loads of evidence of the relationship. As much as it annoyed me to have to do so, my rational side could understand it.

If she applies for a work visa based on her partnership first and then submit the application to become a resident, she won't have any problems. Skipping steps is easy but the easy way isn't always the best. ;)

That said, as far as my experience can tell, you never know what you'll get from Immigration NZ, no matter how clear and defined their rules seem to be at first sight.