Daughter writes to PM to get dad home

After going almost half a year without seeing her father, Amelie Harrop wrote down her feelings and sealed them in an envelope addressed to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The 8-year-old Dunedin girl’s father, Brett Harrop, works in Sri Lanka and has tried in vain five times to get a position in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) using the voucher system.

Mother Gwen Harrop said her husband, who previously worked for the Otago Volts, moved to Sri Lanka for work on a two-year contract as the lead physiotherapist for Sri Lanka cricket, which allowed plenty of time off for visits home.

Amelie Harrop, of Dunedin, displays the letter she wrote to the Prime Minister asking for her...
Amelie Harrop, of Dunedin, displays the letter she wrote to the Prime Minister asking for her father to come home to New Zealand. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Yesterday, the Government announced changes to the MIQ system, including shorter MIQ stays which would open up about 1500 spaces a month.

Quarantine-free travel for eligible one-way travellers from some Pacific nations would be expanded on November 8.

An increase in home isolation will be used for vaccinated overseas arrivals at some point early next year.

It was great to see progress being made and she hoped the situation would improve soon, Mrs Harrop said.

The current MIQ lottery system was unfair and based on luck, she said.

She hoped home isolation would come in soon and meant a shorter wait for New Zealanders trying to come home.

Her husband’s decision to accept the role was made before the Delta variant had affected New Zealand and they had not known what a big difference it would make, she said.

Now that the family had not seen him for months, she was considering moving to Sri Lanka so Amelie and her brother, Luka (10), could be with her sorely missed father.

She did not want to take them away from their home, but they needed to be with their father, she said.

There were families more deserving of a spot in MIQ than they were, but there were also people just coming back from a holiday and the system did not discriminate between cases.

Children picked up on things and liked to help out, she said.

Amid the frustration, she made the offhand suggestion to Amelie that she write a letter to Ms Ardern about the situation, Mrs Harrop said.

Amelia embraced the idea and outlined in the letter some of the things she loved about Dunedin and how much she missed her father.

It also included a photo of her and her father smiling happily.

Amelia said she could not wait for her father to come home and the first thing she would do when she saw him was give him a big hug.

Mrs Harrop also sent a copy of the letter to the office of Dunedin MP David Clark.