"Sometimes in life you’ve got to give credit where it’s due. But I don’t think words could convey completely what this man has done for us."
I came to New Zealand around December 2006. It was meant to be just a holiday, but I fell head over heels in love with the place. I secured a job and immigrated from my homeland, South Africa, bringing my wife and last-born daughter over shortly after.
We wanted to bring the whole family over. You see, we’re a family unit – it is important that we all stay together. Our children are from what you might call a ‘family adoption’. My son and his wife had divorced a couple of years prior and we had taken in their children. One of them was only seven days old.
Back home, our family all lived together, partly because it’s not easy in South Africa for people of colour to own property. Shareen, our eldest daughter, became the adopted children’s primary carer. The plan was that she too would immigrate.
After nine years of working and living in New Zealand, I applied for residency under the work category. I had a lot of trouble – despite having the qualifications and a managerial position my job title wasn’t good enough. Aaron had been recommended to me, and with his help I successfully applied under the family category.
By then, Shareen had joined us in New Zealand. Due to financial constraints, she couldn’t bring both children. She brought the youngest over, leaving the other with their birth mother. The birth mother did not take care of him; she left him with strangers. We had to save him. And that is when our real immigration problems began.
We needed to get New Zealand residency visas for the children, but because of the complicated situation, the process wasn’t easy. It is hard to understand the immigration laws. We paid a lot for legal assistance, but it was money down the drain. The applications were declined, and the children were going to be deported.
We tried all kinds of lawyers, but wherever we went doors would just slam… until we again reached out to Aaron.
Some people take it lightly. Even Aaron might not realise how significant his actions were. But I know he literally saved the lives of these kids and gave them a future. I am saying this from the depths of my heart. His insistence and compassion – it was almost personal. Even when immigration rejected the application, he took the case to the tribunal. He did not want us to fail because he saw our situation. And, in the end, we were victorious.
Our experience with Aaron was outstanding. Right from the start, he was very transparent. He kept us up to date with everything he did: the steps he took to get where we are now, and even the way he charged for his services – every cent was justified. Every step of the way gave us hope.
I am grateful to the immigration system for letting us take the case further. But if it wasn’t for an intelligent person like Aaron, I don’t know where we would be.
Sometimes in life you’ve got to give credit where it’s due. But I don’t think words could convey completely what this man has done for us.