A Northlander who has spent seven months in an Australian immigration detention centre after finishing his jail term will arrive in New Zealand tomorrow with $250, eight nights accommodation and nothing else.
Trent Kaaka, 26, served two years in prison for armed robbery and possession of drugs and found out only four days before his release he would be sent to the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre to await deportation to New Zealand, where he left seven years ago.
"I'm scared, for sure. From being away for two years and seven months and getting released into the community. It'll be different."
Mr Kaaka, who is from Te Kao, was living in Australia after moving over for a "better life" after his mother died.
He said he had been in and out of work as a scaffolder and was sentenced to six years' jail after he and two others invaded two homes within hours, taking jewellery, cash and electrical goods.
"Maybe if I had a history of crime I deserved [being detained] but this was the first time. I regret it. I was out of work at the time and had been kicked out."
During his two years in prison, Mr Kaaka said he did drug rehabilitation and courses in mining, preparing for a job in the mines upon his release. He said before he found out he would be detained, he planned to live with his brother and work as a miner.
But tomorrow he will fly into Auckland. He said his father still lived in Te Kao but he did not want to move back there because of lack of opportunity.
Erina Anderson-Morunga is from Moerewa but has lived in Adelaide since 2007. She founded a group called Iwi n Aus following Australia's 2001 immigration legislation.
She said the legislation meant New Zealanders were able to live and work permanently in Australia but would only ever be recognised as temporary residents indefinitely. This meant Kiwis, who were living in Australia, and had done more than a year in prison while over there were being sent to immigration detention centres while their claims to stay were considered.
"The law is convoluted and nonsensical. What we see in deportation centres like Christmas Island is a classic example. The ground has opened up and we have fallen through."
Ms Anderson-Morunga has advocated for Kiwis in detention centres, including those in Christmas Island.
"They don't know how long they're there for, all of the processes are very confusing. They don't know the rules. And they put Christmas Island on lockdown and they're only allowed out four times a day."
Ms Anderson-Morunga was in New Zealand on Friday while Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was visiting the country. She said she protested to put pressure on the New Zealand Government to stop "pussy-footing around as the Australian Government are crushing our people".
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis went to Christmas Island over the weekend to take up the cause for Kiwis detained there.
Mr Davis said as the Government seemed to be doing nothing to help the plight of those in the detention centres.
"Sometimes you just have to do what you think it right. These people are Kiwis ... " he said.