(L-R) Sōsefo Lakalaka and wife Siunipa Lakalaka. Photo/Supplied

The patient with kidney failure the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal ordered to be deported has had his permanent visa application finally approved.

Treatment for kidney failure, which mostly involves dialysis, is not available in Tonga.

Sōsefo Lakalaka, 54, who is also known as Siliva Lakalaka, and his 13-year-old son were ordered to leave New Zealand no later than May 2019.

Lakalaka never gave up and last month his visa application was granted.

Lakalaka flew to the kingdom this week to meet his wife and the rest of their children after being apart for 13 years.

“I am over the moon,” he told Kaniva News from Tonga.  

He said he felt that while he was an overstayer in New Zealand he was travelling in a journey that has no destination.

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“I do not know whether or not I will again come across a situation like that in which I experienced a huge desperation, especially the fact I have been missing my family in Tonga for about 13 years,” Lakalaka said.  

“Today my desperation has gone away.”

Pacific Legal Immigration Lawyers director Richard Small (Left) with the Lakalakas, after informing them of their visa approval. ‘Anaise Small (Right) . Photo/Supplied

Lakalaka, who is Catholic, revealed what he described as a secret he kept while fighting to stay in New Zealand.

“I have prayed so sincerely day and night,” he said.

“I knew for sure my immigration application would not be easily approved as there was no reasonable ground.

“There appeared to be no hope at all, but I did not give up going to the church.

“Whenever I got the chance to pray, I recited various prayers of the church and all of a sudden Jesus answered my prayer.”

He thanked Kaniva News for helping him, referring to a story on his case we published in January 2019 saying that his application for a resident visa had been declined.

He said he would return to New Zealand shortly and his family would apply for visas to come to the country.

Lakalaka was being treated for end-stage kidney failure secondary to polycystic kidney disease. 

He had a successful kidney transplant in September 2009, but the kidney has developed progressive structural damage which means its function has reduced over time. He now has stage four kidney disease and requires regular supervision from a renal physician in New Zealand.  

The extent to which this could be managed from Tonga, with changes to medication being facilitated through a blood-testing regime, was uncertain, the Tribunal said when it previously declined Lakalaka’s visa application. 

The approval came after he appealed against the deportation order. Included in the appeal was his 13-year-old son.

Lakalaka and his wife have six children whom they have raised by customary adoption.  His  wife, two daughters and a son remain in Tonga. 

The main points

  • The patient with kidney failure the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal ordered to be deported has had his permanent visa application finally approved.
  • Sōsefo Lakalaka never gave up and last month his visa application was granted.

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