Thousands support Ukrainian family facing deportation

5:18 pm on 2 February 2019

A petition set up in support of a Ukrainian family denied New Zealand residency has received over 3300 signatures in less than a day.

La Vista owner Nataliya Shchetkova.

La Vista owner Nataliya Shchetkova said the restaurant turned over $1.6 million last year and it employs 17 full-time staff and 26 people in total. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

ACT Party leader David Seymour set up the petition which asks Parliament to urge the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway to intervene.

The Shchetkova family arrived in New Zealand six years ago on a long-term business visa to develop a large restaurant.

Mr Seymour said their application for residency was rejected on a technicality.

"They were reassured by Immigration New Zealand that if they bought a different business from the one they originally applied to purchase they could still be eligible for residency, subsequently that has been reverted."

This week Mr Seymour visited the family, who own popular restaurant La Vista in Auckland's St Heliers.

"After speaking to Nataliya for three quarters of an hour, meeting her family, seeing her business and talking to St Heliers residents on the street, I decided these guys actually are the real deal and are deserving of our help."

He said the immigration minister had the power to make exceptions.

ACT Party leader David Seymour

David Seymour. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

"He's certainly done this for constituents of mine in the Epsom electorate in the past. He is the last line of defence for people who suffer injustices under the immigration system such as the Shchetkova's."

He said they were clearly people of good character who were worthy of remaining in New Zealand and was not surprised the community was rallying around them.

"We actually want people to immigrate to New Zealand, integrate themselves into the community, build businesses and employ people; that's the kind of immigration New Zealanders welcome and now we've got some, our government is trying to stop it.

"The average Kiwi wants the government to protect our rights and keep us safe, not prevent people who - as far as everyone in St Heliers is concerned - are Kiwis from being able to stay here."

He said the family were very anxious about their future.

"They are just ordinary people, building a business, employing people, trying to help out in their community, faced with the underlying stress that they may have to change everything about their lives.

"And let's not forget that the Ukraine is in a state of proxy war and marshal law at the moment. It's not a place that one would want to return to under any circumstances."

Mr Seymour has also organised a rally for next Sunday in support of the family.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs