A previous story about this.

Let them stay, says migrant's first boss
By David Eames

The man who first employed South African car salesman Gavin Penfold - who faces deportation after a work permit bungle - is $10,000 out of pocket but remains philosophical about his former employee's right to stay in New Zealand. Kelly Illerbrun, managing director of IC Motors in Whangarei, said he paid a recruitment agency about $10,000 in fees to advertise for and hire each of his foreign workers.

IC Motors employs 45 staff, nearly 30 per cent of whom are immigrants. The company employs Filipinos, Fijian Indians and South Africans. It was forced to hire overseas workers due to a national lack of mechanics, specialist technicians and other qualified vehicle-industry staff, Mr Illerbrun said.

Mr Penfold was employed in December 2004 to manage IC's Hyundai franchise outlet in Whangarei. But the 30-year-old fell foul of immigration authorities when he left IC motors after about six weeks to take up a position with an Auckland vehicle dealership. Mr Penfold neglected to tell the Labour Department of his new job until about 10 months later. As a result he, his wife and their two children face removal to South Africa. The family has lodged an appeal with Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove.

Mr Illerbrun said that although Mr Penfold needed "a kick in the arse" for not following the correct procedures, immigration officials could be "making an example of him". "New Zealand needs good people. I have to say, if I was voting on it I would be sympathetic" to the Penfolds. He believes that if Mr Penfold was to voluntarily remove his family from New Zealand and reapply for entry, immigration bosses would likely "blacknote" him and prevent his return. Mr Illerbrun - himself the child of immigrant Canadians - said he understood that a move from a foreign city to somewhere such as the Far North could be a culture shock. As a result, he tried "to paint as clear a picture of what they are applying for" as possible.

"I'm not trying to talk up Whangarei over Auckland ... There's only six cappuccino bars downtown, as opposed to 25." Mr Illerbrun said it was "unfortunate" Mr Penfold chose to leave Whangarei after such a short time, but "you can't keep a good man down".

He said many South Africans had trouble getting used to life in New Zealand, particularly those who settled in out-of-the-way places such as Whangarei. Life in South Africa could be a lot more comfortable than in New Zealand "if you take away the drama of being shot first thing in the morning".

Despite his hefty financial loss, Mr Illerbrun said he would re-employ Mr Penfold "in a heartbeat". "Gavin has a lot of attributes as far as bringing something to New Zealand." But it did not appear Mr Penfold believed there was an immigration process that had to be followed for him to live in New Zealand legally, he said. "Bottom line, he is well aware of his obligations and what he has to do."

The story so far

* Gavin Penfold migrated from South Africa with his family, taking a job in Whangarei in December 2004.

* Six weeks later he moved to another job in Auckland.

* It was 10 months before he informed immigration authorities of the move.

* The delay meant he had breached his work conditions, and was working
in New Zealand illegally.

* The Penfolds could now be deported, unless they win a reprieve from Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove.