Australia deporting 'New Zealander' who's never even been here

A man who's never stepped foot in New Zealand is being deported here by Australia, according to reports.

Wichman Uriaere, 26, was born in the Cook Islands, giving him New Zealand citizenship, but he's lived in Australia since he was four years old, Stuff reports.

Substance abuse reportedly led to Mr Uriaere committing a number of offences, mostly minor, beginning in 2008. But an aggravated robbery conviction saw him eligible for deportation under Australia's strict laws on non-Australians who offend.

He's been sober and crime-free for the past two years, Stuff reports, but Australia's pressing ahead with his deportation anyway.

"He has never been to New Zealand - he is a really lovely young man who obviously did some foolish things," his lawyer Susan Phillips said.

"We can't just expel him to some country he's never been to… He's a naughty boy, but he's our naughty boy."

She said without a support network, he'll likely fall back into a lifestyle of drugs and crime once he's in New Zealand.

Ms Phillips has lodged an appeal against Mr Uriaere's deportation.

About 1600 people have been deported to New Zealand in the last four years.