Global crunch upsets family dream

BY TRACY NEAL
Last updated 15:00 21/01/2010

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A German family's dream of settling in Nelson has been crushed by the global economic downturn, and they must now leave New Zealand by April 11.

Volker Peter, his wife, Janett, and young children Lenja, 5, Finn, 4, Colin, 2, and newborn Marley, had been living off savings after Mr Peter lost his job at a Nelson joinery firm last year. The money has now run out and they are selling household items they own from a house they rent in rural Tasman to get by.

They do not have enough money to return to Germany, and do not want to return to Europe where the economic situation is still dire, they say.

They now hope to start afresh in Australia, and will spend the next few months focused on that option, Mr Peter said.

He also hoped to be able to get a short-term job until they left Nelson, which is allowed under the open work permit he has.

The family arrived in Nelson in September 2007 on a two-year tourist permit. Mr Peter got a job soon after with a Nelson joinery firm, but was laid off last September because of a downturn in orders.

Since they arrived, Colin and Marley were born, but the children do not have automatic citizenship status.

"We came to New Zealand because there was no work in Germany," Mr Peter said.

Mrs Peter, a mechanic who worked for Audi in Germany, said there had been a huge decline in the car manufacturing industry and did not see it getting any better. He admitted their hopes for residency were not helped by a chapter in his life 10 years ago that resulted in a four-month prison term for non-payment of child support for a daughter he has from a previous relationship.

There were also plenty of New Zealanders looking for jobs in his field of work.

"We came here, searching for work, and everything was fine in the beginning. Everything was running very well.

"We were hoping we could live in Nelson, because we love it. It's better for the children," Mr Peter said.

His work permit expired in November last year, but an extension was granted to allow Mrs Peter to have her baby.

"They (immigration) said she could deliver the baby, and then we had to go," Mr Peter said.

Marley was born six weeks ago in the house they rent in Pomona Rd. They moved there from Bishopdale before Mr Peter lost his job, so their children could follow Lenja in attending Mapua School.

They are selling items to survive, and have managed to get their weekly food bill down from $200 to $50 with the help of friends who provide food, and a menu based on rice, noodles and potatoes, and produce bought from local farmers.

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They were also extremely grateful to their family doctor, who had been a big help to them.

Mrs Peter said a glimmer of hope existed in the family being able to move to Australia, where mechanics were still needed.

"We will go anywhere we can get work," she said.

- The Nelson Mail

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