Boss backs woman facing deportation

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 12/09/2012
Cherie Vermaak
DEAN KOZNIAC/Fairfax NZ

Cherie Vermaak and her daughter Zelda and son Kyle

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A South African woman fighting deportation was a "credit to the council and the city" after the earthquakes, Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt says.

Cherie Vermaak, 42, worked for the council for four years but lost her job in March when her application for a working-visa extension was declined by Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

In a letter sent by Marryatt to Vermaak on September 17, 2010, he thanked Vermaak for her "amazing work after the earthquake".

"I cannot tell you how proud I am. You are a credit to your team, the council and the city," he said.

The letter thanked Vermaak for the "support and tenacity" she displayed in going to work for "long and stressful hours" after the quake.

"You can be proud that your individual effort directly helped the city and its residents and that your work going forward will continue to do so," it said.

Vermaak had worked for the council since 2007 and after the February quake last year she volunteered at welfare shelters.

On March 5 this year she was offered a permanent position with the regulations and democracy department, a job she had been waiting years for.

Knowing her family's visas would expire at the end of the month, she filed an application for an extension.

Two days before the deadline, she received a request from INZ for a renewal of police clearances and medical checkups. Vermaak sought an extension but was told "it wasn't their policy to renew a visa without updated documents".

She lost her job with the council as a result and has been fighting to stay in the country since.

Vermaak and her two children will be deported unless Associate Minister Kate Wilkinson intervenes and reviews INZ's decision.

Vermaak told The Press it had been a "rough few months".

"It has been tough; really stressful for all of us."

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