Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison gutted over Immigration New Zealand's decision to deny step-father visa

Jude Kerrison and Gitonga 'Mich' Obadiah have grown their relationship over 10 years but an application for Mich to come to NZ has been denied.
Jude Kerrison and Gitonga 'Mich' Obadiah have grown their relationship over 10 years but an application for Mich to come to NZ has been denied. Photo credit: Supplied / Newshub.

A decision to reject Jason Kerrison's step-father's application for residency in New Zealand has devastated the Opshop frontman's mum. 

Jude Kerrison was confident she and her husband, a Kenyan national, Gitonga 'Mich' Obadiah had provided Immigration New Zealand with enough information so their partnership visa application made in May would be approved.  

But on August 1, Mich received correspondence from INZ rejecting him from living in New Zealand with Jude, while questioning the legitimacy and credibility of their relationship. 

The couple were told they sit outside the scope of what defines what a "genuine and stable" relationship, according to its policy guidelines.  

The news was heartbreaking for the pair who talk almost on a daily basis after meeting online ten years ago, using emails, phone calls and text messages to keep in touch. 

As Jude and Mich's relationship has grown stronger over time, Jude has been to Mich's home eight times. The couple also met in Bangkok once before travelling together and have ventured to Tanzania.

Jude says she could see Mich was the right one from the first time they came face-to-face in March 2010 after meeting online in July 2009. 

"I had that feeling, that's why I kept going over and building the relationship," Jude told Newshub. 

On September 20 2017, they were married in a beautiful, intimate ceremony which was attended by close family members from both sides in Mich's township, Chogoria - a town about three-and-a-half hours from Nairobi in Kenya.  

Born in Invercargill, Jude is now in her mid-60s. She's worked "incredibly hard" her whole life, according to Jason, and now feels let down by her country after deciding it was the right time to live together. 

Mich did his training in hotel management in the UK where he lived for about thirty years. Jude says his English is better than hers. 

Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison gutted over Immigration New Zealand's decision to deny step-father visa
Photo credit: Supplied / Newshub.

Since moving back to Chogoria where he has a coffee farm and is a respected community leader and landowner, he has upheld responsibilities as an elder. 

He's involved with the local schools, one of which his family built, and is chairman of a number of committees including the water project which runs around the township.

Because his daughter has completed university, he’s now comfortable leaving the farm in the hands of his children and moving to be with Jude in New Zealand. 

Jude has felt it was important to stay in New Zealand to be with her granddaughter who lost her father about three years ago which "changed everything".

The couple thought they were doing the right thing by waiting until the right time to live together, but don't know how to plan for the future after the application was declined.

Upon hearing the decision, Jude jumped on a plane to be with Mich. She has since returned and they are now working on what options are available to try again. 

"I think my biggest frustration is that I'm a born and bred Kiwi and I see other people getting it easier," she says.  

Jude's son, Jason, who is the lead singer of Kiwi band Opshop says the "seemingly xenophobic immigration policy" hasn't recognised the very nature of the cultural differences and modern families which sadly keep them apart - his cultural commitments and her whanau ones.

The frontman, whose band is behind multi-platinum singles 'Maybe' and 'One Day', which won them an APRA Silver Scroll in 2008, is standing in the Te Hiku Ward of the Far North District Council elections.

He says his step-dad is a "wonderful, educated, community-minded and deeply cultural African man" and Aotearoa would benefit from him being here. INZ's decision has absolutely gutted their entire family and he explained it's been tough watching his mum so upset.  

"It just broke her," he told Newshub. "Love is not defined by Immigration New Zealand. Her heart is broken, and her husband's heart is broken, my heart breaks for her. 

"I feel so upset for him because he was so shaken in his voice when he told me but was still trying to maintain the dignity that he has." 

Jason believes the guidelines are "so narrow-minded", it allows situations to occur where people who are living in a long-distance relationship to be overlooked. 

"It doesn't acknowledge the complexities of the modern world that we're in," he says.  

Beyond the fact it was so offensive to her, he understands why his mother now feels betrayed. 

"She's ended up feeling like her entire emotional position with her husband has been disenfranchised," he says. 

"It's invalidated her marriage, it's invalidated her relationship for nine years and that commitment and love for one another."

Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison gutted over Immigration New Zealand's decision to deny step-father visa

Jason believes she shouldn't be put into a position where she must try and justify the nature of her relationship. 

INZ told Newshub a new application can be submitted with evidence that meets the immigration instructions. 

It said that decisions for visa applications are considered against immigration instructions, and the same policy applies to all visa applicants regardless of their country of citizenship.

INZ said the visa application was declined due to the lack of a relationship timeline between the applicant and partner, which meant it was difficult to assess how the relationship started, progressed and was maintained.  Also, the application showed no evidence of financial interdependency. 

"INZ has to be satisfied the relationship is credible, genuine and stable, and likely to endure.

In March, Newshub revealed the Immigration Minister ordered his officials to grant 600 fewer residence visas a month. 

National set a limit of 95,000 residence visas to be granted over two years - an average of almost 4000 a month. 

The current Government has cut that significantly - down to a maximum of 60,000 over 18 months.

Jason doubts the application was thoroughly processed but doesn't have any ill feelings to the person making the decision, understanding he or she would have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to get through. 

He says however that doesn't mean that people who deserve to be in New Zealand or people who deserve to have their loved ones here, should be kicked to the curb.