Lovesick 89-year-old in plea to Minister

Ian Glover with his wife Aurora in Alexandra earlier this year. Mr Glover hopes a petition will turn the tide in his battle to gain a New Zealand residence visa for his wife of five years. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Ian Glover with his wife Aurora in Alexandra earlier this year. Mr Glover hopes a petition will turn the tide in his battle to gain a New Zealand residence visa for his wife of five years. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
An Alexandra man who has tried unsuccessfully for nearly five years to gain New Zealand residency for his wife is now asking the Minister of Immigration for an independent review of the decision.

Ian Glover (89) gathered more than 130 signatures in a few days on a petition backing his case and delivered the petition to Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean this week. Mrs Dean will present the petition to the minister, Nathan Guy.

Mr Glover and his wife Aurora (67) have been separated since March. Mrs Glover, who has diabetes, returned to her home country, the Philippines, to sort out her mother's estate. Since returning to the Philippines, her condition has worsened and she is now on dialysis once a week.

The cost of dialysis in this country, as a non-resident, is prohibitive, so she has remained in her home country for treatment. Her applications for a New Zealand residence visa, and subsequent appeals, have been turned down because of her diabetes.

The couple met in New Zealand and have been married for nearly five years. Mr Glover has never been overseas before but has applied for a passport and is planning to visit his wife at the end of this month.

''I'll go to Manila for a month to see if I can cope with humidity at my age, and if I can, I'll consider selling my home in Alexandra and going to live in Manila, to be with my wife.''

He and his wife would prefer to be able to live in this country together so they are pinning their hopes on a plea to the Minister of Immigration for a review of the residency decision, either on the basis the original decision was flawed or on humanitarian grounds.

''We're asking for it to be reviewed, as the reports the immigration officer based the earlier decisions on contained a number of errors about our marital state and my wife's health,'' Mr Glover said.

The couple had to get letters from friends and neighbours to prove it was a legitimate marriage and they were living together at his home, which was embarrassing, he said.

As well, they had to pay for extra medical tests for Mrs Glover to prove she had not had a stroke, after a medical report before immigration suggested that was the case.

Mr Glover said he had paid about $25,000 so far in lawyers' fees and medical expenses to try to acquire a residency visa for his wife. A friend of the couple, Robin O'Brien, said it was unfair that Mr Glover, at the age of 89, should have to move overseas to be with his wife, because she needed dialysis.

''Quite frankly, it's not good enough. I understand the country needs immigration laws but there should be allowances made, particularly for people who have lived here all their lives. Surely the minister has some discretion.''

Mrs Dean said her office had been working with Mr Glover for more than a year to try to gain residency for his wife.

''It's been very frustrating for him, and on his behalf we've made several representations to the minister, but haven't been successful.''

Mrs Dean said she understood it was a ''difficult and heart-wrenching'' time for Mr Glover but while she supported him, she was ''not the decision-maker in this case''.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz