The Government is in contact with relevant authorities in Turkey following the arrest of a former Australian and New Zealand dual citizen there, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“Contingency planning for the potential return of any New Zealander who may have been in the conflict zone has been underway for some time, and involves the New Zealand Police and other agencies,” Ms Ardern said.
“The woman in this case has held New Zealand and Australian citizenships and has been known to Australian and New Zealand authorities for some time.
“The fair question to ask is whether she should return to New Zealand or Australia. We firmly believe the answer is Australia – and have repeatedly communicated that view to the Australian Government at the highest levels.
“Unfortunately the Australian Government unilaterally cancelled her citizenship.
“It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was six, has resided in Australia since that time, has her family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport.
“Any fair minded person would consider this person an Australian and that is my view too.”
The Prime Minister said the NZ Government believed Australia had abdicated its responsibilities in relation to the woman.
“And I have personally made that point to Prime Minister Morrison, ” she said.
“Our international obligations are important to New Zealand. Where dual citizenship is involved, our view has been that it’s for New Zealand and Australia to resolve the most appropriate response and ensure that we do not strip citizenship and render someone stateless, especially when children are involved.
“We continue to urge Australia to cooperate in the management of these cases.
“The welfare of the children also needs to be at the forefront in this situation. These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own.
“Coming to New Zealand, where they have no immediate family, would not be in their best interests. We know that young children thrive best when surrounded by people who love them. We will be raising these points with the Australian Government.
“We will be engaging with the Turkish authorities, and given there are children involved, their welfare will be top of mind in our response,” Ms Ardern said.