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Online support for a South African family trying to avoid deportation from New Zealand is burgeoning, but Immigration officials remain unswayed by public opinion.
The von Metzingers, who live in Dunedin, have reluctantly booked tickets to leave New Zealand, but eldest son Travis (18) launched an online petition two weeks ago asking for the Government to grant his family permanent residency.
As of yesterday, 17,500 people had signed the petition.
The von Metzingers would likely have succeeded in obtaining a temporary work permit to stay longer, but have been applying for permanent residency to make the city they have been in for the past nine years truly home.
However, a kidney complaint suffered by Travis von Metzinger's younger brother Ethan (15) has seen Immigration New Zealand turn down the application despite father Steve von Metzinger promising the family would pay Ethan's medical expenses rather than using the public health system.
After a failed appeal, the family is hoping a final appeal for mercy will see them given permission to stay in New Zealand.
"There's not a lot of action at the moment, but we have another week and some change,'' Steve von Metzinger said.
"The petition has been going strong and has a life of its own: what it shows is that (INZ's view of) our case does not meet public scrutiny.''
The von Metzingers have also appealed to local MPs for help.