In November 2005, the Government reduced the validity of the New Zealand passport issued to those aged 16+ from ten years to five, the move was unpopular with the travelling public.
Kyle Lockwood's interest in the matter was raised when he witnessed a young mother refused travel for herself and her children out of Melbourne’s international airport because there were less than six months' left on the mother's five-year passport.
Although people should always check the validity of their passport before travelling, Lockwood felt that the unnecessarily short 5-year passport validity period meant that many Kiwis were getting caught out when travelling internationally.
“In 1998 I successfully campaigned Parliament to introduce the proof of age 18+ Card, prior to 1998, driver licences didn’t have a photo, and Kiwis under the age of 25 needed a passport to enter a bar, which was quite ridiculous! I thought that I could use my campaigning experience, to help more New Zealanders get a fair go when it came to passport validity,” said Lockwood from his home in Melbourne.
Starting in January 2013, Lockwood tirelessly campaigned the New Zealand Government to change New Zealand’s passport validity back to 10 years.
"Early in the campaign we were basically told to shove off by the former Minister of Internal Affairs, he was adamant that the campaign would fail, however in the lead up to the September 2014 election we managed to get every major political party to issue policy to reinstate 10-year passports for New Zealanders," continued Mr Lockwood.
The 5-year passport was introduced abruptly following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, and other countries were expected to follow suit, but didn't. Australia, Canada, France, Britain, the US, and most OECD nations have 10-year terms for their passports.
In December 2013, with the help of campaigners Dr Heath Grow, Mr John Stace, and Labour MP, Hon Phil Goff, Lockwood submitted a petition to Parliament which had attracted nearly 16,000 signatures from New Zealanders all over the world, many Kiwis abroad supported the initiative, as it was a time consuming and expensive exercise to transfer visas from one passport to the next every 5 years.
After extensive lobbying, an official review of the validity period was announced by the Prime Minister in August 2014, a month before the general election, soon after the election, law changes were passed in Parliament, and on the 30th of November 2015, 10-year passports became available again for New Zealanders.
Lockwood also discovered that there were huge year-on-year multi-million dollar surpluses recorded in the governments Passport Memorandum Account, New Zealanders were effectively being overcharged for their 5-year passports, and with the latest 2016-17 balance recorded at $34 million, it is an issue that continues to this day.
“The Passports Memorandum Account ideally should record a zero balance year on year, I realise the New Zealand Government provided a capital injection of over $17 million in 15-16 financial year, however, a reported balance of $34 million in an account that should be at zero is a little excessive, I will be asking for a please explain from the Department of Internal Affairs in the near future.”
Lockwood has waited over 5 years since he first started campaigning for the reinstatement of 10-year passports and says that the moment his first 10-year passport arrived was incredible.
"It was an incredible feeling to open my new passport booklet today and see an expiry date of 2028 in the document, all those years of campaigning and waiting have finally paid off.”
However, Lockwood says it was the determination of thousands of ordinary New Zealanders to return to 10-year passports that were his prime motivator in getting 10-year passports reinstated.
“Without all those thousands of people who signed the petition back in 2014 we wouldn’t be in a position where over 1.4 million New Zealanders have 10-year passports today, moving into the future, this initiative will help millions more New Zealanders in their travels worldwide.” Concluded Mr Lockwood.
NZ Ten-Year Passports Organisation.