Albert shrinking as he fights to avoid deportation

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2013
Albert Buitenhuis
Grahame Cox
LOSE TO WIN: Albert Buitenhuis has lost an impressive 30kg over the past six years.

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New Zealand will gain more than it will lose by granting residency to a South African man fighting deportation for being obese, a immigration expert says.

Albert Buitenhuis' 130kg weight has come under scrutiny from Immigration New Zealand after he and his wife Marthie applied for permanent residency, despite him losing 30kg since they moved to Christchurch six years ago.

Associate Minister Nikki Kaye is expected to make a decision on their residency within the next fortnight.

Licensed immigration adviser Mike Bell said Albert's profession as a chef, which is on the long-term skills shortage list, meant New Zealand would benefit from the couple being granted residency.

His occupation, coupled with having paid taxes for six years, worked in his favour, he said.

"He's been doing his bit. He's a useful member of society ... and he's losing weight ... I think he has more to offer New Zealand, than New Zealand has to lose [deporting him]," Bell said.

The couple moved to Christchurch from South Africa in 2007 and have worked at a local restaurant since. The pair were issued work visas and Albert's weight was never raised.

At 1.78 metres Albert is still considered medically obese.
INZ cited his weight and a long-standing knee injury when declining the couple work visas on May 1.

Marthie Buitenhuis said they hoped Kaye would reach a decision "sooner rather than later", but they were remaining hopeful.

She said had it not been for support and charity of their church, friends and family they would have been "destitute".

"We have no money left ... We would've been in really deep trouble.

"We hope we will be able to stay. Going back isn't really an option ... We love Christchurch, we've been through all the earthquakes, we just adore the place. That's our house, that's our home."

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