Cantabrians are rallying around the owners of a local cafe to help keep them in New Zealand.
For eight years, Michael and Zora have owned the popular Woodend cafe Grub Hub but after building a life for themselves they now face leaving behind their business and close-knit community.
The pair, originally from China, are facing deportation after their visa was declined due to a compliance issue.
The couple’s business was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic so Zora decided to return to her studies to upskill and get another job to help the pair get by. However, this meant she was not complying with her visa conditions.
The news of their looming departure struck a chord with the local community.
Appearing on AM, Woodend Community Association president Mark Paterson said the couple have immense support from Woodend.
“Zora and Mikey are a big part of our community. They contribute a lot, when they came to us with their problem, their visa application, we thought well they are very valued in the community,” Paterson told co-host Ryan Bridge.
He went to Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey with the issue who suggested starting a petition.
Now, the petition to keep Michael and Zora in New Zealand has received over 3400 signatures – that is more than the population of Woodend.
“We [are] just very grateful we got lots of signatures and grateful for the community for standing with us because we just want to stay,” Zora told AM.
Immigration NZ couldn’t comment on specific individuals without a privacy waiver. Zora and Michael did not want to sign one.
Watch the video above for more.