'We feel defeated' - No last-minute reprieve for deported Dunedin family

Travis and Ethan von Metzinger.
Travis and Ethan von Metzinger. Photo credit: Supplied

There has been no last-minute reprieve for the von Metzinger family, who fly back to South Africa on Saturday after appeals, pleas and a petition went unanswered.

The family has lived in New Zealand for the last nine years. Oldest son Travis is studying health science at the University of Otago, while younger brother Ethan is a student at King's High School, both in Dunedin.

But Immigration New Zealand has ordered the family of four, including father Steve and mother Joan, to leave over Ethan's pre-existing kidney condition - even though father Steve von Metzinger has offered to fund treatment out of his own pocket if any medical issues or costs are to arise.

"Every problem Immigration's presented us with, we've presented them with a solution. Despite everything we've done, it's just fallen on deaf ears," says Travis.

"I have no inclination to go back to South Africa. In the nine years we've been here, not once have we gone back there because we have the intention that New Zealand is home and we don't want to be anywhere else in the world."

Travis says Ethan had an operation when he was a year old to insert a valve that helps his kidney reflux condition, and since then there have been no medical problems.

"He has one functioning kidney between the two, but that's enough to keep him alive and he is fine, he is healthy."

The Ministry of Health says privately paid operations aren't allowed to take place in public hospitals, and there are no private facilities in New Zealand which offer kidney transplants.

Dunedin Hospital.
Dunedin Hospital. Photo credit: File

Three weeks ago Travis launched an online petition to gather support for his family's fight. More than 28,000 people have signed it, calling on the Government to let the family stay.

"We invested a decade here and the message is fairly loud and clear that after a decade of trying, they just don't want us here. Frankly I'm of the opinion if they don't want us here, they don't deserve the family," Travis told Newshub.

"We're all upstanding people, Dad works his ass off day in day out, Mum is a charity worker, I want to become a doctor and give back to the community. If they don't want us here, then it's time for us to go look elsewhere where we are wanted in the world."

The family heads back to South Africa for a month-long "holiday" before they plan to move on - potentially to Europe, where Mr von Metzinger can carry on his work as a principal consultant.

"There's a part of us that feels defeated about the whole situation. It didn't go in our favour and despite all of the fighting and all of that, there is nothing we can do about it, we just get on with life now," says Travis.


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