Whangarei resident Graeme Watson is ecstatic he finally has New Zealand residency after a lifetime of living in this country.

But he has lost his job, been without a wage and had his car repossessed in the months since losing his job and hearing this week he can officially work again.

Mr Watson moved to Whangarei with his Scottish migrant parents when he was 3 years old. He only found he was not a citizen and did not have a work visa when he was sacked from his job several months ago - his employer citing "immigrant status" issues.

His citizenship was never in question until the private health care company terminated his contract five weeks into a new job as a counsellor. Before taking up that job Mr Watson worked as a counsellor with Northland District Health Board for four years.


His story struck a chord after it was published in the Northern Advocate a month ago. Offers of help included one from Warkworth-based immigration consultant Cameron Gray, who offered his services free.

Mr Gray took Mr Watson's documents that proved his lifetime in New Zealand to Immigration Services in Auckland and returned with a visa to New Zealand.

Mr Watson said he is grateful to Mr Cameron for sorting out what he described as a "bloody nightmare and a Government cock-up".

Immigration New Zealand confirmed Mr Watson should have been eligible for automatic citizenship because his family migrated here before 1974.