Immigration NZ sorry after mum was separated from kids following husband's death

Sam Kelway
Source: 1News

Immigration New Zealand has apologised to a grieving mother whose husband died in a crash last month, and who hasn’t seen her kids in nearly two years.

Lawrence Bennett was killed when the car he was driving crashed into a bank, his three children were also in the car.

His wife Sam Yee Chen left New Zealand in December 2019, to renew her passport and to finalise her residency, buts she’s been stuck in Malaysia ever since.

“I just miss my kids,” she said.

Her children, aged six and eight, have been living with close family friends, Wes Archer and his wife Claudia.

Fighting back tears, Wes told 1 NEWS he’s spent weeks emailing and calling Immigration New Zealand to speed up the process.

"Immigration's just got wake up and see that… there's two amazing kids here that have lost their father.

“They saw their father go through the back window of car and they need their mother here now, " he said.

On the day 1 NEWS contacted Immigration New Zealand, it said a “border exemption was prioritised and approved”.

“Immigration New Zealand (INZ) would like to extend our condolences to Ms Sam and her family for their loss and empathise with the difficult situation they are in.

“We acknowledge that Ms Sam’s request took longer to process than the standard five working day timeframe.

“We accept that this request should have been processed quicker and we apologise for the delay and any added stress it caused Ms Sam and her family during this already difficult time,” the statement said.

INZ says because Sam had previously been unlawfully in the country twice in the last five years, “there was more information to consider”.

The two children FaceTime their mother each night, and had been traveling to their home to clean, and gather some toys.

Meanwhile family and friends have made a Givealittle Page to help support the family and bring the childrens’ mother home.