If Hollywood stars can enter New Zealand, why can’t our dad?
That’s what Tauranga twins Sophia and Michelle Toolen-Hemsley asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in heartfelt letters pleading with her to let him into the country.
The 10-year-old Kiwi citizens have now spent more than six months away from dad Richard Toolen, who is locked out of the country by the Covid-19 border closures – despite intervention from MP for Tauranga Simon Bridges.
The girls lived in London with British and US passport-holding Toolen and mum Kiwi Donna Hemsley.
The family had been in the very final stages of permanently moving to New Zealand when the pandemic hit in March.
They had put Sophia and Michelle into school in July last year in Tauranga.
Toolen stayed back in the UK to run the financial services company he owned in Switzerland.
The family then spent Christmas and January together in New Zealand before buying a home in Mt Maunganui.
Toolen flew back out to Europe to pack the rest of their belongings and ship it in a container to New Zealand.
Having always been able to fly in and out of New Zealand on a tourist visa, his plan was to start his residency visa application once living in the country.