Journalist Behrouz Boochani tastes freedom in New Zealand

Award-winning journalist, author and documentary maker Behrouz Boochani has had his first taste of freedom in six years, arriving in New Zealand last night. 

Boochani has been detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea since he fled Iran in 2013. 

While imprisoned, he wrote the award-winning book No Friend But The Mountains on his smartphone. Now, he has been granted a visa to New Zealand to speak at the literary festival 'Word' in Christchurch. 

The journalist fled Iran in 2013 for the safety of Australian shores.

Instead, without a trial or any criminal convictions, he was forcibly held by the Australian Government in Papua New Guinea. 

"I left Iran because I didn't want to live in prison, but Australia jailed me," says Boochani. 

His arrival in New Zealand has the potential to upset the Australian Government - they've refused our Government's offer to take 150 of the refugees held in detention centres Manus and Nauru. 

Boochani's been able to slip into New Zealand thanks to the book he wrote while in prison.

He was granted a one-month limited visa to speak at the Christchurch literary event. 

"It was quite incredible that Christchurch would be the first place in the world to hear Behrouz Boochani's voice telling his own story in person, that is an incredible honour and privilege," says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

He remains tight-lipped about where he intends to go next. The United States has already accepted him as a refugee. 

Boochani says he won't be seeking asylum in New Zealand.

"I've been accepted by America finally and now I want to be free for just a while as a writer, nothing else. I don't want to be part of any process for a while so I will look at the possibility and then make a decision." 

Boochani could claim asylum in New Zealand later, but his immediate focus is to be a loud public mouthpiece for the people he has left behind.

"Really I would like to ask the New Zealand Government to directly have a negotiation with PNG and with Manus to accept 150 people and more," he says.

He has thanked New Zealanders already, describing his welcome here as a "reminder of kindness".