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4 Otago L. Rev. 201 (1977-1980)
New Zealand Citizenship Redefined

handle is hein.journals/otago4 and id is 214 raw text is: NEW ZEALAND CITIZENSHIP REDEFINED
Until the enactment of the Citizenship Act 1977 the casual inquirer
might well have admitted to some uncertainty concerning the status of
New Zealand citizenship and its relationship to British nationality. Was
New Zealand citizenship a secondary and derivative status, according
precedence to, and possibly arising from, the rather vague concept of
British subject? After all, the very title of the pre-1978 legislation -
the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 -
appeared to establish an unmistakable, if not natural, order; and the first
part of that statute was assigned specifically to British Nationality. Or
was New Zealand citizenship the primary status from which issued the
indeterminate common status of British subject?
In fact, the scheme of the pre-1978 New Zealand legislation was the
creation of a two-tiered structure of local citizenship - expressing the
basic juridical relationship of the New Zealander to his state - and
common status. For the first time, New Zealand defined its own citizen-
ship and recognised that its citizens, and those of other Commonwealth
countries, also enjoyed the secondary status of British subject or
Commonwealth citizen, the two terms being synonymous.1
In the three decades since, New Zealand citizenship has assumed an
increasing importance. Rights which originally attached to possession of
the common status are now held, in New Zealand, by local citizens only.
Until recently, the entry of British subjects to New Zealand was un-
restricted. However, changes in New Zealand's immigration policies
since 1974 have impressed a new value on citizenship status -a value
that is reflected in the sudden and continuing increase in applications for
New Zealand citizenship in the last few years. At present, only New
Zealand citizens enjoy the rights of unrestricted entry to, and residence
in. New Zealand.
The Citizenship Act 1977,2 which entered into force on 1 January
1978, signals an interesting change of emphasis. While the Act does not
depart from the basic design of local citizenship and common status, it
establishes New Zealand citizenship in terms that properly reflect the
increased importance of local rather than common status in the relations
of Commonwealth countries inter se. The title, which avoids any implied
deference to the concept of British nationality, evidences this loosening
of the British connection.
The Citizenship Act presents a number of further significant changes
in its revision and redefinition of New Zealand citizenship. It adopts the
* B.A., LL.B., Post-Grad.Dip.Law(Otago), LL.M.(Michigan). Lecturer in Law,
University of Otago.
I British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948, s.3.
2 The new legislation, originally introduced as the Citizens and Aliens Bill 1977,
repeals the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 and ss.
3-13 of the Aliens Act 1948.

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