Aliens normally resident in New Zealand may become New Zealand citizens by naturalisation. An applicant must satisfy the Minister of Internal Affairs that, after attaining the age of 20 years, he has given notice of his intention to apply for naturalisation at least 12 months but not more than five years before the date of application; that he has resided in the country during the 12 months prior to the date of application; that during the seven years immediately preceding the 12 months he has resided in New Zealand for periods which amount to at least four years; that he is of good character; has sufficient knowledge of the English language and of the responsibilities and privileges of New Zealand citizenship; and, if naturalised, intends to live in New Zealand. Crown service under the New Zealand Government outside New Zealand can count instead of actual residence in New Zealand, while the Minister can allow certain other qualifications, such as service in the forces, to make up the required periods.
Before a certificate of naturalisation is effective the oath of allegiance must be taken. In 1954 the Government decided that this should be done in an atmosphere of dignity and solemnity. Local authorities were asked to arrange proper ceremonies where the oath was taken and the certificate of naturalisation presented. During the year 1964–65, 84 citizenship ceremonies took place at which 1,375 certificates were presented.
A New Zealand citizen of full age may lose his citizenship under certain conditions. If he becomes a citizen of another Commonwealth country or a foreign national, he may renounce his New Zealand citizenship before a magistrate or a designated representative overseas. The Minister may refuse to register such renunciation if the person continues to be ordinarily resident in New Zealand or if the assuming of foreign nationality takes place during a war in which New Zealand is engaged.
The Minister may deprive a person of full age of his New Zealand citizenship if foreign nationality is acquired voluntarily, other than by marriage, and it is not conducive to the public good that the citizenship should be continued. Where citizenship is obtained by fraud, the Minister may revoke it. In this case, however, the matter is subject to appeal to a committee of inquiry.
In the original Act provision was made for aliens residing in Western Samoa to be naturalised and under it Samoans were New Zealand protected persons. With the independence of Samoa in 1962 these arrangements have been repealed, but Samoans are not treated as aliens in New Zealand. Samoa has not yet decided her relationship with the Commonwealth and, until this is done, the matter cannot finally be determined.