New Zealand nationality law is historically derived from UK and Commonwealth concepts of citizenship, and has remained a relatively stable area of law for many years. The last major amendment took place in 2005 which, most significantly, made acquisition “by Grant” more onerous. Decisions as to Citizenship are made by the Department of Internal Affairs.
New Zealand citizenship may be acquired by Birth when born in New Zealand and having at least one parent who was a Citizen or Resident at the time. It may be by Descent when the applicant was born outside New Zealand but has at least one parent who held Citizenship otherwise than by Descent; or if the applicant would otherwise be stateless, a parent may be a Citizen by Descent. Furthermore, citizenship may be acquired by Grant when a person is 16 years of age or older, holding a Resident Visa for 5 years before applying, being present in New Zealand for 1350 days in those 5 years, and having been present for 240 days in each of those 5 years. Applications are assessed in line with the Grants Policy
It is no longer possible to acquire nationality merely by being the spouse of a New Zealander, as a consequence of the 2005 Amendment.
Applicants for Citizenship by grant must also satisfy conditions as to facility with English, minimal criminal convictions, and their knowledge of the privileges and duties attaching to being a New Zealander. The Minister of Internal Affairs may waive requirements such as time in New Zealand, English language or disqualification on character grounds, if satisfied that rare and exceptional circumstances exist.
New Zealand allows dual and multiple citizenship. The Citizenship Act makes no explicit mention of the effect of having another nationality. A New Zealander may only voluntarily renounce their Citizenship if they already hold that of another country. They may only be deprived of Citizenship (for fraud or acting contrary to New Zealand’s interests) if they hold or exercise the rights of another nationality.