Battle to stay is lost

GOING: Overstayer Martin Payne, centre, with son James and daughter Nicola at their family run business at Kapiro, north of Kerikeri.
GOING: Overstayer Martin Payne, centre, with son James and daughter Nicola at their family run business at Kapiro, north of Kerikeri.

Immigration authorities aren't budging.

Kapiro garage owner Martin Payne and his son James have to leave New Zealand and their business – splitting their family.

Mr Payne has been given until April 23 to leave the country. Son James left for the UK on Monday.

Daughter Nicola George and his grandchildren will stay in New Zealand.

Nicola says her father, 62, is worried sick.

"It's so sad. There is nothing for him to go back to in the UK. He has applied for a visa for Australia which will allow him to live there for six months and then come here for six months, although he won't be able to work."

James intends to apply for a visa from outside the country, as required. It could take anything between four weeks and three months, he's been told.

Operating on a business visa Martin Payne bought the garage at Kapiro soon after arriving in New Zealand almost seven years ago.

He successfully built up the business to the degree that, last year, it was named one of 10 customer choice finalists in the Northland Chamber of Commerce Westpac Business Awards.

Nicola and her children followed her father to New Zealand.

Mr Payne employed Nicola, his son James Payne and two other fulltime workers. He has seven grandchildren, who are part of the community.

But two years ago he was treated for an abnormal heart rhythm and by the time he obtained the required documentation from a heart specialist, concerning his health status, his visa had expired, leaving him an overstayer.

He was told to cease working and the removal order followed.

Backed by a community initiated petition, the family did everything they could, including appealing to Northland MP John Carter, to achieve a compassionate reprieve. They failed.

Nicola says she intends to continue running the garage as best she can, while James goes through the visa application process.

"But we might have to shut for a little while if I can't find someone to do warrant of fitness testing," she says. "Customers have been amazingly supportive. I had a woman come in who was nearly in tears."

Northland