Parliament has passed a law change to keep tabs on criminals being transported from Australia just a day before the first wave of an increase is expected to arrive.
The Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Bill passed by 107 votes today, with the Greens abstaining their 14 votes.
A charter flight - dubbed "Con Air" - is due to arrive tomorrow, carrying detained New Zealanders hit by harsh new laws targeting foreign-born criminals.
The 20-or-so criminals - the Government doesn't yet know how many but says they will have committed sexual violence, violence, robbery and drug offences - have decided to return to New Zealand to fight their visa cancellation.
They will be met at the airport by police, Corrections staff and social agencies and will have to give officials their details, fingerprints and DNA (for some offences). They will then be subject to parole-like conditions.
It is expected the number of people coming back to New Zealand would triple to about 300 a year at a cost of $7.4 million.
Labour says it has taken nearly a year for the Government to react to Australia's law change and now its own rushed law change, which hasn't been through the select committee process, is "full of holes".
It created anomalies over how people were treated for overseas crimes, leaving the country they called home and being punished without committing crimes.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says about 40 percent of those returning aren't welcome in Australia on "character grounds".
The bill was drafted in 12 days and went through parliament under urgency. Ms Adams said they had been working on the problem since February, but there have been problems in dealing with Australia.
One aspect of the new law is that it only applies to people sent here within six months of their release from prison.
Labour's Kelvin Davis says if any of them are coming from Christmas Island they will be traumatised and without a lawyer.
"They will have difficulty with anything the authorities throw at them... I have real concerns about the human side of this.
They would have no friends, family or cash, he said.
"These people are bound to be dumped on our streets... chances are they are going to have to resort to crime to get by."
Justice Minister Amy Adams made one concession to the opposition in reducing the bill review time from two years to 18 months.
She says the new law protects New Zealanders as beforehand serious offenders had been returning without any supervision.