Sorry for the delay but needed to respond while on the computer. Part of the reason I wasn't going to comment as I was on a phone so couldn't do a full answer.
You aren't without options.
But before I get into that 2 things.
1) the partner visa MUST be an objective process even though it is extremely subjective for the family, by its nature it is for families. Please note the advice I give is along the same vein and I don't believe in just saying happy crappy stuff but stick to giving facts and helping where I can and its just through my research and experience. thats not to say I'm not sympathetic. Also while it seems complicated there are many reasons including false applications. and if they were to make it so there were more options covering a wider range of circumstances it would be infinitely more complicated. part of the problem is most people have no idea about anything to do with it until they face it themselves, eg when abbot increased the price by near enough 200% most people didn't care but if they apply now can't believe how expensive it is, and most think just being married alone is a automatic grant.
2) regarding the breach of rights and ethics. they aren't separating your family. there is no requirement for a partner to move to Australia leaving the main family unit. Also it could be said that you could of applied for the partner visa previously so as to not be in that position. Thats just why I said it wasn't so simple (and obviously a million and one things in everyones circumstances). Not to worry anything else will just be visa related from now.
Now thats said onto the practical side. calling immigration is useless you can talk to 6 people and get 10 answers on the same question, the staff are great people but they don't have knowledge to make decisions and many people have been caught out following incorrect advice. for professional advice you should seek a registered migration agent and as a FYI the first 2 number of their registration number indicate the year they became registered.
first up the processing time you have put is way off. current averages are 75% completed within 14 months and 90% completed within 19 months, leaving an unfortunate 10% taking longer. some misread it as it takes between 14 and 19 months. Country of origin of the applicant is a factor. You will at least be spared the two factor process of getting the temporary visa first and then having to sort the permanent aspect as you should get them both at the same time due to length of time of the partnership and kids involved.
When you applied for the tourist visa did you apply for the normal tourist visa of the family sponsored?
You can lodge the partner application now, you could head to Australia and depending on what suits your partner travel with you now or tidies things up in NZ and follows after, while your partner wont be able to work if they need to do something to fill in time they can volunteer at a not for profit. obviously your partner would have to leave when that period is finished but once they leave they can apply for another and of course you can request a longer period. if this one has no 8503 condition then you can lodge another tourist visa onshore. The requirement is that the applicant be offshore when they apply and offshore for the decision.
There are other possible options but would need to know partners age and country of origin, ect.
Not to worry further replies will be much more succinct. and honestly all the best