Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker is calling on the people of Queenstown to march in support of the Wijerathne family this Sunday.
A march, which will begin at the gates of the Lakeview Holiday Park on Man St at 12pm on Sunday is being organised by Mr Walker and comes after the Wijerathne family lodged a humanitarian appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal to stop their deportation from New Zealand.
“Dinesha Amarasinghe, her husband Sam Wijerathne and their three young boys moved to New Zealand from Sri Lanka eight years ago and have become well-settled in the Queenstown community,” Mr Walker says.
“Dinesha and Sam have worked incredibly hard to support their children and give them a bright future in New Zealand. The boys – Binath, 10, Senath, 8, and Subath, 11 – love their new life in Queenstown and have had great academic and sporting successes at Queenstown Primary School.”
The Wijerathne family face returning to Sri Lanka after their work visas were cancelled last month. Dinesha held an essential work visa to work as a chef in Queenstown, but it has not been renewed on health conditions, after she developed multiple sclerosis. As a result, Sam’s visa has also been cancelled.
Last week, Mr Walker wrote to the Minister for Immigration, and Associate Minister for Immigration, asking them to make an exception to policy to allow the Wijerathne family to stay in New Zealand. Mr Walker also asked for a temporary work visa to be issued to Sam so he could financially support his family during the appeal process.
“While it’s unlikely that the Minister will intervene while an appeal is being pursued, he does have the power to grant a visa for Sam and I’m hoping that could offer some relief in the meantime,” Mr Walker says.
“We need to keep up the pressure on the Minister and Associate Minister to help, which is why I decided to work with the Wijerathne family and organise this march.
“I’ve received so many messages of support for the family, including a petition signed by more than 2000 people asking for them to stay in New Zealand. It’s been amazing to read so many emails and Facebook messages about the contribution this family has made to the Queenstown community.
“This is a really stressful time for Sam, Dinesha and the boys, but the community is right behind them - and I am, too. Let’s show Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway and Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi just how much support the Wijerathne family has.”
WHERE: Start at the Lakeview Holiday Park gates (Man St) | Finish at the Village Green
WHEN: Sunday, November 26 - 12pm