Ukrainian family overwhelmed by petition support

5:07 pm on 4 February 2019

A mother facing an uncertain furture in New Zealand is overwhelmed that almost 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for her and her family to be able to stay in the country.

La Vista owner Nataliya Shchetkova.

Nataliya Shchetkova Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

The Shchetkovas, who own popular restaurant La Vista in Auckland's St Heliers, arrived in New Zealand six years ago on a long-term business visa.

Immigration New Zealand declined them residency and they've now been told to sell their business and to leave the country by July.

ACT Party leader David Seymour set up a petition which asks Parliament to urge the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway to intervene. Within four days almost 10,000 people signed the petition which closes on 11 February.

A spokesperson for Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the office received a request for assistance from the Shchetkovas this afternoon.

Nataliya Shchetkova told Morning Report the support her family received was humbling.

"The amount of support we received from the locals signifies that our story resonates with Kiwis and they find it unjust."

She wasn't sure if the support would translate into Immigration New Zealand changing its decision.

"We try to do our best and show that we deserve to stay in the country."

She said the family had written to the immigration minister explaining their situation.

"We provided all the information, what we achieved [doing] business in New Zealand, and the human situation in Ukraine at this moment."

ACT Party leader David Seymour

David Seymour Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

If she were to leave in July, she said her family would have to start from scratch.

"It's going to be a disaster for me and my family. [Ukraine] is not a safe place."

Mr Seymour said the Shchetkovas were 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."

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

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

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