Immigration New Zealand is changing its practices after an 18-year-old French au pair was locked in a Queenstown police cell in December while waiting to be deported.

Manon Pache was refused entry to New Zealand by immigration officials concerned she was likely to babysit for the Australian family with whom she was travelling.

Although it is still an offence for an overseas visitor without a work permit to babysit for profit, an offender may in future be less likely to end up in a cell if caught.

In an email to the Otago Daily Times, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment national border manager Senta Jehle said a trial began in Queenstown at the beginning of this month to allow "low-risk passengers" refused entry to New Zealand to be released while waiting for their flight home, on condition they reported to the police.

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"At the end of the trial, the results will be assessed to determine whether the process should be permanent and used at other airports that do not have 24-hour staffing or custodial facilities," Ms Jehle said.

On her arrival at Queenstown Airport last December, Pache told an Immigration NZ official she was likely to look after the family's two young children on nights when their parents and grandparents were dining out.

Immigration NZ noted Pache's flights and accommodation had been paid by the family and regarded that as payment for the work she was likely to do, and decided to deport her.

Manon was upset by her night in the cells, her Australian family was "horrified and disgusted" and Prime Minister John Key later described Immigration NZ as "heavy-handed".

At the request of the ODT and with the approval of Pache, Jehle also provided the ODT with an audio copy of Immigration NZ's interview with Pache.

Although much of what she said was unintelligible because of the poor quality of the recording, it revealed the official believed Pache had given two versions of her purpose in visiting New Zealand.

The first was that she would be "looking after the two kids" and the second that she was "just on holiday".

"I do not find it credible the people for whom you work as an au pair and who you have known for less than four months would pay for your travel and accommodation expenses unless there was an expectation that you would also be working as an au pair during your visit to New Zealand," the official said during the interview.

Pache's Australian employer Dr Pip Johnston told the paper earlier the immigration officer she dealt with was "incredibly rude and unreasonable".

The audio recording included no rude or unreasonable behaviour.

At one point, the officer said he would refer to his manager the decision over whether or not Pache should be deported.

Immigration NZ declined to provide a video copy of the interview, so as to protect the privacy of the officer involved.