Some children born overseas while border shut don't have same legal claim to be Kiwi as those born here

Newshub can reveal some children born overseas while our borders were closed don't have the same claim to be a Kiwi as if they were born here.

That was news to the minister who is promising a fix.

Locked out of her homeland and an ocean away from her family, Shannon gave birth to her daughter in December 2021.

"We ended up having our baby in Australia prematurely with a whole heap of complications and no family over there," Shannon said. 

She'd tried her luck in the managed isolation lottery and applied three times for emergency spots, but couldn't get one.

Shannon had no idea giving birth overseas meant her child's future choices might be impacted.

"We didn't get the choice to choose that for our daughter - the choice was made for us."

That's because New Zealand has three levels of citizenship which determine whether your child can inherit it.

The first - and most powerful - is by birth. You're a citizen, so you can pass that onto your child, wherever they're born.

Another is by grant - you become a Kiwi through a citizenship ceremony. If your child is born overseas, they need to be registered.

The third is by descent - and that's the issue here. Shannon's daughter inherited citizenship and so her future children may not automatically qualify.

"Your child not being able to pass on their citizenship to their children if they have children overseas, which is a real possibility," she said.

Lawyer Tudor Clee has clients who were forced to have children overseas

"Every single child forced to be born overseas now has a lesser level of citizenship than if they'd been born in New Zealand," said Clee. 

Because the parents are only Kiwis by descent, their kids may not be Kiwis at all.

"We've got this mess which is intergenerational and could take years to fix… this is a ticking timebomb for the Government."

Barbara Edmonds, the new Internal Affairs Minister, wasn't aware of the issue until told by Newshub.

"Obviously, the impact is really with for the grandchildren of that New Zealand citizen so that's something I'm really keen to look at."

She has now instructed officials to look into a fix.

"Now it's been raised with me, it's now, I believe, my responsibility to have a good look at it," said Edmonds.

Shannon is wanting more than a look. She wants her baby to have the right to pass on her Kiwi citizenship.