Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey and Woodend Community Association President Mark Paterson are backing a petition to keep a popular couple in the country after Immigration NZ declined their visas.
Hospitality business owners Michael and Zora run popular cafe the Grub Hub in their adopted hometown of Woodend, however they are facing deportation after their visa applications were declined.
The couple are well known and liked by local residents due to their hard work running the café in the North Canterbury town. Having built a life for themselves in the small town they are now faced with leaving behind their business, staff and the community they now call home.
Since arriving in New Zealand from China the couple worked hard building up their community business until Covid-19 hit. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit their business hard, so Zora decided to return to her studies so she could look for a second job to supplement the lost income of the business. Unfortunately, this decision resulted in her not complying with her visa conditions which has resulted in the threat of deportation.
Doocey said when residents of Woodend approached him asking for help with Michael and Zora's immigration issue it soon became clear that they had an enormous level of local support.
“I'm thrilled for Michael and Zora that we received more than 2000 signatures in the first few hours, and I'd encourage everyone who hasn’t signed to jump online and show their support.
“As local MP I stand behind hard-working business owners like Michael and Zora who make a real positive difference in their community.”
There is no shortage of community support for Michael and Zora who both are very active volunteering in the community, including sponsoring the Woodend Rugby Club. Michael coaches kids basketball and hopes to become a volunteer firefighter for the local Woodend Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Paterson said Michael had been a great community member, sponsoring the local rugby club as well as coaching basketball at Woodend School.
“He and Zora are very well regarded by all who know them," he said.
"They know all our names and what’s happening in our families’ lives, and they support all the important events in our small town.
“Our community is all the better for individuals like Mikey and Zora and they have huge support from the locals.”
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