Bestselling author faces battle for NZ residency
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2009

A popular author whose work focuses on the challenges faced by migrants is fighting a real-life battle to gain New Zealand residency.

Marina Lewycka, who wrote the international bestseller A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans, wants to join her husband of 22 years, Dave Feickert, in Wanganui.

Mr Feickert said the Immigration Service had told the couple they had to prove they were in a relationship by providing copies of their email correspondence, and by living together for an unspecified amount of time in New Zealand.

They have been together since 1975 and have a 32-year-old daughter, Sonia.

"How utterly ridiculous," Lewycka said. "I thought New Zealand was a 'can do' society."

Because of her promotional obligations as an author, and Mr Feickert's job as an international coalmine safety adviser, the couple are rarely in New Zealand at the same time for a long period.

Lewycka lives in Sheffield, England, where she is preparing for the publication of her third book, We Are All Made of Glue, in July.

She has spent the last five summers in Wanganui and writes her books at the house she shares with Mr Feickert while in New Zealand.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which has sold millions of copies, tells of two Ukrainian sisters who grew up in England. Two Caravans details the lives of migrant strawberry pickers.

Lewycka was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany to Ukrainian parents after World War II and was taken to England when she was three months old.

Mr Feickert described the situation as Kafkaesque.

"To me it's just completely absurd. I know they have rules they have to follow ... but why go through all the rigmarole of rejecting someone like Marina?"

He did not think the couple's situation was unusual in the modern world, and said his wife wanted to become a Kiwi.

"She loves New Zealand and it's as simple as that."

After inquiries from The Dominion Post yesterday, a senior Immigration Service official in Palmerston North told Mr Feickert the couple no longer had to live together in New Zealand for a set period, and said they had to provide only an email heading rather than full copies of their correspondence.

The Immigration Service would not comment yesterday.

By SIMON WOOD, The Dominion Post

From here.