By Carla Penman
A number of lifelike sex dolls with children's faces have been stopped at the border by Customs.
New Zealand Customs said it had intercepted "a handful" of the dolls in the past 12 months alone.
The dolls have caused a stir overseas in recent months, for their silicone-like skin, real human hair and eyelashes.
Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said the office was aware of the growing, global trend and were monitoring it closely.
All sex dolls were deemed obscene and prohibited by the Customs and Excise Act 1996.
"We're seeing some of these start to appear on the border. And really that's, to my mind, the effect of globalisation and the shrinking of the virtual borders that we have."
These items are declared as obscene, he said, and importation was prohibited.
"There's no defence to say you didn't know that these were illegal at the time of importation," Berry said.
"But Customs uses its discretion as to where we go with following up these interceptions."
So far no one had been arrested or charged for importing child sex dolls, which are destroyed by Customs.
Last month, a UK man was jailed for nearly three years, in a case thought to be the first of its kind there, for trying to import a lifelike child sex doll.
Australian Customs officials also confirmed there had been a recent rise in the number of dolls found at the border.