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Man desperately trying to get family to NZ after moving from South Africa for work

A South African man is struggling to reunite with his family - including a son he hasn't seen since he was four days old - after moving to New Zealand on a work visa earlier this year.

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Henco de Beer and Katie Armstrong discussed the struggle to get his family to Hamilton. Source: Breakfast

Henco de Beer moved to Hamilton on a work visa in January, leaving behind his wife and children, who were due to fly over on March 20 - the same day the border was due to close.

Many people attempting to enter the country have been impeded by a lack of space in Covid-19 managed isolation hotels, despite thousands of beds having been left empty over the past few months at an average of around 1291 per day.

De Beer told TVNZ's Breakfast this morning that while 2020 has "probably been the most challenging year for everyone," it has been "a disaster" for him and his family.

"It's just been a struggle to get them here," he said.

He said it was "not a case of new applications" or "a family that's just thinking of coming over," adding that "everything was in place, everything was granted, we've followed the systems, we've done the work".

"Just look at the picture - we do deserve to be here."

De Beer pleaded with Immigration New Zealand to "look at the big picture of these families, what they've gone through just to get to this stage, to get those visas, to get the employment".

He said the disruption is affecting the development of his daughter, who was due to begin Year 1 this year.

"That is destroying myself, it's destroying my wife's relationships - especially for the children - and then for my son, the most important part, his initial nine months of his life, I haven't been there.

"It's critical and it's moments that I miss that you will not see again. It's moments together as a family that's gone."

He said his wife and children had missed their flight by 20 hours and "those 20 hours have turned into practically 10 months".

"It's like a blow by blow. Every couple of months, we get a hint, we see somebody might be able to assist us and we jump on it, wait with great expectation, you almost start packing your suitcases again and then again, you're back to square one."

He said while he respected the Government and its handling of Covid-19 at the border, de Beer pleaded for Immigration New Zealand to "please give us a chance".

In a statement to RNZ on October 21 a Government managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson said: "Having additional capacity is also required for contingency planning in the unlikely event of a managed isolation facility requiring evacuation, or a natural disaster occurring.

"Ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders during this global pandemic is critical and being able to transfer these returnees safely to new facilities with additional capacity is necessary."