He came to New Zealand as a seven-year-old in 1958. Next week he's off to the UK. But all of a sudden he was told he might never be allowed back here. David Fisher investigates the baffling case of Tim Dare - are others in the same boat?
He spent 61 years here, paid his taxes, voted often and eventually retired on a state pension - then Tim Dare was told if he left New Zealand he might never be allowed back.
Dare couldn't believe it. He had arrived here from the United Kingdom as a boy in 1958, spent his life living, loving and working, only to discover he apparently had no right to do so.
He'd never left the country, not even to Australia. "What would I want to go there for?"
Sounds pretty Kiwi - but not enough for Immigration NZ.
When Dare, in retirement, thought he might go see something of the world, he set out to visit his son Dan in England. "I said, 'listen mate, I'll be a stranger in a strange land. I'm relying on you'."
So Dare, who lives in Picton, set about arranging a New Zealand residency visa for his British passport, which he had arranged a few years earlier for a trip which never happened.
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When asked to offer proof he had entered the country legally, Dare sent a copy of his father's passport. The document shows Leslie Dare entered New Zealand on October 28, 1958, with two children.
It names one of those boys as Timothy Copeland Dare, age 7.
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An Immigration NZ worker in visa services wrote back saying: "The passport of your father where you were endorsed does not have a stamp that confirms when you arrived in New Zealand, when residence was granted or what type of visa was granted when you arrived."
Dare: "It just turned into a nightmare from then."
It got sorted - Dare's passport with residency arrived in the post on Monday a month after the drama ensued. The flight to the UK is next week, and he's delighted at the prospect of seeing his son, his wife Millie and granddaughters.
But he says his head is still spinning from his entanglement with bureaucracy.
"I was trying to track down schools to prove I had been there. The schools didn't have any records.
"Most of my ex-bosses had either given up the game or died. Most of the time I was self-employed."
It was tax records going back decades which eventually convinced Immigration NZ, and the efforts of Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith and his electorate staff.
The greatest puzzle, though, is why Immigration NZ won't accept Dare's regular appearance in electoral rolls as proof he had lived here.
The NZ Herald checked rolls for the last three elections and Dare appears in each. He's voted since he was able to - age 21 at the time of the November 25, 1972 election which brought in Norm Kirk as Prime Minister.
The rules for voting in New Zealand insist you must be either a citizen or a permanent resident.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said those who arrived in New Zealand from the United Kingdom before April 2 1974 "did not need a visa or permit and are deemed to hold a resident visa".
"A person with a resident visa is a permanent resident for the purposes of enrolling and voting."
The Electoral Commission also has a system for checking newly registered voters - it does data-matching with Immigration NZ.
A spokesman for Immigration NZ said it "has no responsibility for the electoral roll" and "has to rely on its own records" which showed Dare was a British citizen.
Dare said he was concerned, having been told attempting to return to New Zealand without a visa could mean he was refused entry.
Immigration NZ staff had provided Dare with a list of documents he could use to prove his residency, he said.
For Dare, the paperwork was a headache. He's worked as a builder, and in later life, refurbished an historic scow in Picton Harbour and opened it as a cafe and bar.
He'll work with wood - but put a bureaucratic form in front of him and it's a salad of boxes and words.
The local Citizens Advice Bureau helped out, then someone called Moses at Immigration NZ provided him the stamp to reach the promised land.
"Does it mean I shouldn't have been on the electoral roll," he wonders. "Or got the DPB [for the period he parented alone]. I've had my shoulder done, and my leg [at the hospital]. I just ticked permanent resident because that's what I thought I was.
"Or a driver licence, let alone the pension when according to Immigration, I don't exist!"
Smith, who worked with his electorate office on Dare's behalf, found it baffling.
"Here's a man who has gone through almost a lifetime in New Zealand and has had to go through extraordinary lengths to get a stamp on his passport to get back into the country.
Smith, who is also National's immigration spokesman, said: "If you're able to vote, I would think you're able to have a permanent residency."