For 11 years, Murrumbateman's Angus Phillips-Higham has been working towards his dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer.
At 17, he spends 35 hours a week dancing at a school in Sydney, while completing his year 11 studies in the evening.
When the coronavirus pandemic shut his school down, he did dance lessons via Zoom in his family's living room.
Despite the disruption of 2020, he has scored a prized position at the New Zealand School of Dance from next February.
But there's a catch.
New Zealand has rejected his application for an exemption to enter the country. The country suspended processing visas for people offshore in August.
The school has threatened to cancel his place unless he can provide evidence he will be allowed into the country by December 16.
Now Angus and his family are pleading with New Zealand authorities to reconsider and help a young man's dreams come true.
"Dance for me has been a way to express myself in the most purest and most expressive way. It's always been a part of who I am. And it's really helped me truly be happy," Angus said.
"Being able to go to the New Zealand School of Dance would be an absolute dream come true for my career as a professional dancer, because it offers a high level of contemporary dance education, it has such excellent teachers and has produced some incredible dancers. And I personally want to become a contemporary dancer and choreographer and New Zealand School of Dance has the teachers and the experience there for me to learn how to do that and to follow that dream."
His mother Gabrielle Phillips said while there were great schools in Australia, including the one he currently attended, none matched the intensity of the New Zealand school or offered the blend of contemporary and classical ballet he needed.
"While he's got options in Australia, the New Zealand school offers the course that he can see as best suiting him in his career," she said.
The federal member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain has appealed directly to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern to intervene.
"With talk and trust around a 'Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble' increasing I am hoping you might be able to assist in making the dreams of a country kid come true," her November 20 letter said.
"He is a young, committed and focused dancer with a bright career ahead of him. His work and achievements to date are an important example to every boy and girl growing up in my vast rural electorate. If there is anything you can do to help it would make one young man very happy and deepen the strong bonds between our two countries. I'd love to think that one day you and I might find ourselves in a crowded audience cheering Angus on."
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said Angus did not meet the high bar required for a border exemption on humanitarian grounds.
"While INZ is empathetic to the situation some individuals such as Mr Phillips-Higham find themselves in, INZ has no ability to apply discretion when considering requests for border exceptions," a spokesman said.
The country's borders have remained shut to virtually all international travellers this year, following the virus outbreak.
It will soon allow a small number of international students to return.
However thousands of students were waiting offshore for their visas to be approved.
As of Saturday, New Zealand had 59 active cases of coronavirus.
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