Dominic (49), Project Manager. Wellington, NZ.

In 2016, my wife and I separated. Due to various reasons beyond my control, our children's on-going Permanent Residence Visa applications were cancelled. My wife was granted leave by the court, against my wishes, to take our children back to Germany where she and the boys (aged 9 and 7) are citizens (and I am not). From 2017 to 2019 I travelled to see my children three times in Germany, under trying circumstances. It was a heart-wrenching time for me, and I was mentally and emotionally drained from my fight to maintain my relationship with my boys. It was the most stressful period of my life until that point. You can imagine, then, how I felt when Jacinda closed the borders.

The media fawned over her, praising the decision. Shut the borders! Keep the terrible virus out! Isn't it great that New Zealand is an island! People's safety is more important than the Bill of Rights Act! For me and my children, this decision was devastating. I wouldn't see my children for three more years.

Politicians, sports stars, musicians and celebrities were allowed to enter New Zealand – entertainment was more essential than families, apparently. The travel permission scheme (it was so traumatic I've blocked the name of it out of my mind) was absurd. Even if I could somehow ‘win' a slot in the lottery, New Zealand's government wouldn't have allowed me back home again! At the time I was a Permanent Resident, and I wasn't vaccinated.

Jacinda's ‘Be Kind' mantra was galling and laughable. She gleefully brought in unlawful, damaging policies, with the full support of those who felt safe in their little local ‘bubbles'. I will never forgive her, her cronies, the tyrannical government, and the media cheerleaders for denying me the ability to spend valuable time with my children. I was healthy and they were healthy. I lost three years of seeing them grow up to be young men, and at the time I had no idea if or when it would ever end. My mental state deteriorated as I had to start imagining worst case scenarios.

I know I had it better than many. I can't imagine what families went through when they couldn't be there with their loved ones when they died and were buried.

Shortly after it ended (as quickly as it began), I was granted NZ citizenship. If I'm honest, it didn't feel like a cause for celebration. What happened here was shameful and must never be repeated.

My boys, now young men, are doing well. The eldest has recently been granted a Residence Visa and will come to live with me and my wife in July, with the younger soon to follow. Who knows when they'll need their visa status to protect us from being separated again in the future.

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