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New Zealand citizenship celebrates 60 years

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

8 September 2008
Media Statement

New Zealand citizenship celebrates 60 years

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker says last Saturday marked an important day in New Zealand history. Sixty years ago on 6 September the New Zealand Parliament passed the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948, which created the status of New Zealand citizenship. Prior to this people born in New Zealand could only be British subjects.

“The passing of that legislation was a momentous day for New Zealand because it gave New Zealand citizenship to all current residents who had been either born or naturalised as British subjects from 1 January 1949, when the Act came into force. It also meant that all children born in New Zealand from that date were automatically New Zealand citizens,” Mr Barker said.

He said new residents who were citizens of the British Commonwealth or Ireland could apply to be New Zealand citizens after living in New Zealand for 12 months. Migrants from outside of these nations could also apply for naturalisation through a different process.

“There were further changes in 1977 with the passing of the Citizenship Act. Until the passing of this Act, New Zealanders were still recorded as British subjects on New Zealand passports.

“Further legislative changes in 2005 tightened the criteria for citizenship including longer residency periods and a requirement that any child born after 1 January 2006 can only be a New Zealand citizen by birth, if at least one parent is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

These changes underline the privilege of having New Zealand citizenship. This includes the right to apply for a New Zealand passport,” Mr Barker said.

Just last week, Mr Barker unveiled the new design for the New Zealand passport. “It is fitting that in 2009 we can celebrate the ongoing development of the New Zealand passport and its new reflection of New Zealand identity, at the same time as we acknowledge 60 years of New Zealand citizenship.

“Some events are planned for 2009 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of New Zealand citizenship. Further details will be provided closer to the time,” Mr Barker concluded.


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