A Dutch family say their Southland dream has been shattered.
They call Southland home and say they wanted to make it permanent by investing $2 million into a tulip farm business.
Instead they are preparing to return to Holland on Thursday after Stef Groen lost a bid to extend his working visa in New Zealand.
It is another chapter to what has been an emotional three years for Groen and partner Babs Steinvoort.
Groen shifted to New Zealand in 2005 and moved south in 2013 where he was employed as a manager at the Edendale tulip farm.
In 2015, Steinvoort joined Groen in New Zealand.
While visiting family in Holland in July 2016, Groen was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma cancer while Steinvoort was four months pregnant.
The outlook was bleak.
"After a week I was busy organising songs for my funeral and my belongings," he said.
He undertook various treatments in Holland, both traditional chemotherapy and his own natural approach, which included the Wim Hof Method, a cold body therapy.
Groen made it to his son's birth in December 2016, which was not initially expected.
Then came the unexpected news in May 2017 - Groen was cancer free.
The family's dream had been reignited and in August last year they returned to New Zealand hoping to kick-start the plan to develop a tulip farm business in central Southland.
However, Groen's application for a work visa has been declined on the basis of his health.
Immigration New Zealand wrote to Groen saying: "The medical assessor has advised that you do not have an acceptable standard of health for entry to New Zealand on the basis that you are likely to impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand's health system."
A Southland District Health Board haematologist wrote to Immigration New Zealand in relation to Groen's case and stated on average people who have undergone the same treatment have a "10 year overall survival of 58 percent".
Groen sought advice from the haematologist in Holland who had treated him, he estimated the chance of recurrence at 10 percent during the next five years.
He told Stuff it was not his intention to burden the New Zealand taxpayer with any health related costs
"I could have had my treatment in New Zealand [in 2016] because I had a work visa then, but I did it in Holland. It didn't cost New Zealand any taxpayer dollars."
He wanted to show authorities he had money set aside to pay for any required health costs in the future, but Immigration New Zealand visa services manager Michael Carley said private medical care was not taken into consideration.
Groen believed the family would have had a positive impact on Southland through growing the tulip farm business and helping create jobs.
Carley acknowledged Immigration New Zealand did factor in investment and creation of jobs for New Zealanders when considering visa applications.
Groen had previously held a "work to residence" visa under the entrepreneurship category and applied to extend the entrepreneurship visa after 12 months.
However, it was declined because Groen had not set up his business as per his business plan, Carley said.
The reality had now kicked in for the family that they would have to leave Southland on Thursday.
"[Southland] is our home, our life is here. It's devastating, we have so many friends here now," an emotional Steinvoort said.
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