Citizenship denied for man who saved ancient kauri tree

Michael Tavares, a man who saved a kauri tree in west Auckland in 2015, has had his political aspirations shot down after Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne blocked his bid for citizenship.

He had hoped to stand for election to parliament this year with the Green Party, but had to withdraw when his citizenship was turned down due to a conviction.

Tavares occupied the native 500-year-old tree on private land for three and a half days. He gained public support with a 27,000-signature strong petition, and after protecting the tree turned himself in and was convicted of trespass.

"If I was a criminal I was a very well supported one," Mr Tavares told Newshub.

Australian-born Tavares needed Kiwi citizenship to become an MP and applied for special consideration to exempt his conviction but he's been turned down.

"It was an exceptional case, because it was not an ordinary type of conviction, I mean I hadn't stolen a car or hurt anyone or done anything like that," Tavares said.

He doesn't believe it was a political tactic by Peter Dunne, who is the leader of United Future.

He intends to apply for New Zealand citizenship again in a year's time, when it will have been three years since his conviction.

"I can't foresee any problems then."