Cafe couple's petition takes off
Friends, customers and strangers are rallying behind the owners of Pottering About who are facing an immigration deadline to leave the country.
Steve Wilson and Rachel Yerbury-Wilson moved to Nelson from Scotland in 2011 to start their Pottering About cafe in Buxton Square. They came here after receiving misleading advice on residency terms. While their adviser Glen Standing has since had his licence revoked, Steve, Rachel with their baby Lewis have been told they have to leave New Zealand in six months.
Their residency application has been denied on the grounds the business was not making enough profit and they did not meet the self-employed criteria.
They have launched a petition in the cafe which will be included in an appeal to stay.
The petition has gathered more than 350 signatures so far and is intended to show the government the benefit the couple add to the Nelson community, they say.
The cafe allows people to paint and design different pottery pieces. It also sells food and drinks, and there are plenty of people going in specially to sign the petition, Rachel says.
The Nelson Mail has been reporting on Steve and Rachel's plight, and the couple have plenty of locals rallying to let them stay.
Sisters Heidi and Greta Tapper are throwing a party for them at the store this Saturday to drum up more support.
"I met Steve and Rachel through a mutual friend who took me to their wonderful shop one day. They are a warm generous couple who appear to be made for the Nelson arts scene.
"They are great entertainers and fabulous friends but also bring a vast professional knowledge about performance, art and the industry.
"I have seen many examples of Steve and Rachel trying to help our local young artists by sharing their wisdom about performance and the business side of performing," says Heidi.
She has attended and supported their fundraising events and says she is amazed at the amount of time and energy they have to give to the community.
The open invitation to the party reads "It's like fitting a mini with rugby players, come fill the shop with love. Bums on seats, brushes in hands show Steve and Rachel our T.L.Cash."
The party will have face painting, balloons, and a chocolate fountain.
Cafe employee Fay Vaughan has been working at Pottering About for just over a year, part-time.
She was a customer in the cafe there with her children when she was offered the job.
"It's an awesome job, I love it. There's so much variety, it's never boring."
She says the cafe attracts a cross-section of society, from children celebrating birthday parties, to retirees in for a daily coffee, and it is a safe haven for people with mental health issues who just stop by the store to say hello.
She says Steve and Rachel are dedicated to the community and often donate to causes.
"I have never seen anyone walk out of here without a $20 voucher, when looking for donations for charity."
The cafe also attracted visitors from overseas who wanted a unique souvenir of their time in Nelson.
German tourist Anja Martis was at Pottering About with her family. They were making impressions of her young children's footprints in clay.
"I think it's a nice memory of New Zealand to take back home," she says.