29 Sep 2021

Thousands of NZers miss out on 'jackpot' in second MIQ release

5:43 am on 29 September 2021

Some 3800 rooms in managed isolation were snatched up last night, but thousands more New Zealanders were left empty-handed.

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Thousands of New Zealanders have been left frustrated after missing out on MIQ spaces in the second virtual lobby release. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Social media posts suggest at least 26,000 people logged into the virtual lobby to try their luck.

Aucklander Lyn Graham will be counting her lucky stars today. Next month, her son will touch down on Aotearoa's shores from Australia after he managed to nab a spot.

She was overwhelmed and could not believe she would get her boy home.

"It's more than winning the Lotto - it's jackpot," she said.

Lyn Graham suffers from a degenerative health condition, which makes it difficult for her to care for her eight-month-old granddaughter.

One of her sons, an NRL player in Australia, had been relieved on compassionate grounds to come home and care for his mum and the baby.

While Lyn was crying tears of joy last night, her heart went out to those who have nothing to celebrate.

"I feel a bit guilty that there's thousands of other Kiwis who have missed out on coming home. I hope that those ones whose pensions are expiring and are homeless are able to come home."

Cambridge resident Olivia was also among those celebrating after her wife, who was in London, managed to secure a room.

"She couldn't believe it - we all screamed and danced," she said.

Olivia had travelled back from London earlier this year after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer .

When her mother's chemo did not go as planned, she made the decision to stay in Aotearoa away from her wife.

She said her wife getting a MIQ room was "the first bit of good news we've had in a really long time."

But Olivia still felt for those who missed out.

"My heart aches for them. Being separated from your family is unnatural and totally not fair."

One of the thousands who missed out was Hannah Whiston, who travelled to the UK to support her brother after their father died.

But after a year living out of a suitcase, she was tired and wanted to get back to New Zealand.

"I've got my daughters there, my house and my little blind dog. I'm desperate to get home."

Whiston wanted a prioritised waiting list or some sort of certainty about when she could return.

She said if there was a set return date, even next year, she could plan and get through the next through months by focusing on "the light at the end of the tunnel".

"But at the moment there's just no hope."

Last night's ballot was for MIQ spots in October, November and December.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said thousand more rooms will be released over the next few weeks.

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