A South African chef has been ordered to leave New Zealand by immigration authorities for being "too fat".

Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 130kg (286lb), has been ordered to leave for not having "an acceptable standard of health".

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) refused his application to renew his work visa in May because his weight put him at an increased risk of illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obstructive sleep apnoea.

"It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand's health services," said an INZ spokesman.

But his wife Marthie said that since they moved to Christchurch in 2007, Buitenhuis had lost 30kg (66lb).

Until now, their annual work visas had been renewed with "very little problem", she said.

"We applied year after year and there were no issues."

"They never mentioned Albert's weight or his health once, and he was a lot heavier then."

Mrs Buitenhuis said that they would appeal against the decision.

"The irony is that at the moment he weighs less than when we first arrived in New Zealand and also less than in his first medical, which was accepted by [immigration authorities]," his wife said.

New Zealand has the third most obese population in the world, according to United Nations figures, behind Mexico and the United States.