A South African chef facing deportation from New Zealand because of his weight has been granted a visa.
Albert and Marthie Buitenhuis have lived in Christchurch since 2007 but faced deportation because of concerns about his health.
Along with a pre-existing knee condition, Buitenhuis' obesity was deemed to be too much of a potential strain on the health system.
Since the visas were declined in May, the couple have battled to stay in the country.
They were evicted from their home, sold almost all their possessions to survive and had almost given up hope.
But their prayers have been answered.
Association immigration minister Nikki Kaye has stepped in to grant the couple 23-month work visas. Buitenhuis said the decision was ''bitter-sweet''.
''Of course, we are pleased and relieved that we are now able to stay. It's great, but at the same time we would rather rewind so that none of this took place. It has been a really hard time for both of us.''
The pair would move back to Christchurch on Thursday to resume their jobs at the Cashmere Club.
''We are really starting from scratch again. We have lost thousands of dollars fighting this and we don't know where we will live because our home is gone. I am glad the fight is over but I am still afraid of what lies ahead.''
In a letter obtained by The Press, Kaye said ''after careful consideration'' she had decided to grant the visas.
She said the main reason Buitenhuis' application was declined was due to the osteoarthritis in his knee.
The work visas would not make the couple eligible for public-funded health care, so Buitenhuis will have to pay for the cost of his knee replacement.
In New Zealand, the operation would cost about $20,000, but Buitenhuis was looking at travelling to India and having it done for half the cost.
''It's still $11,000 so it's a lot of money. I am not sure how we will raise that amount when we have used all our savings on visa applications but we will.''
Buitenhuis has already shed 35kg from his 1.78m frame since arriving in the country and aims to lose another 25kg over the next few months.
''I would then be 100kg and my BMI will be 35 and so I do not think that will be a problem,'' he said.
''I am not in a hurry to lose the weight. I would rather do it properly and slowly.''
He said he had lost the weight through ''lifestyle changes'', picked up from Weight Watchers and a dietician, rather than a strict diet.
''The rules are to divide your plate into two halves and one of the halves into quarters. When you dish up, one quarter is for your meat ... the other quarter is for your carbs...and the remaining half is for vegetables.''
He avoided fats, sugars and carbohydrate ''overloads''.
''The main thing is to understand that there is only one way of getting fat, and that is by eating,'' Buitenhuis said.
''[It's] not very revolutionary.''
In her letter, Kaye told the couple she would not be able to give ''ministerial intervention'' to their future applications.
''Any future application will be assessed under normal instructions and the applicable requirements, including those related to health, will need to be met.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
Pals and playmates (pictures)
Reacting to a sudden cancellation
New Zealand's best deck built yesterday
Appreciating Tony Allen
The meaning of blogging