This week Henley and Partners released their ranking of the value of individual nations passports. This is a valuation listing based on the number of countries an individual passport will give a person access to.
The New Zealand passport is powerful in that it will admit a holder to 171 separate countries. This is seventh equal and places New Zealand ahead of even much more influential nations such as the United States, but behind Germany, whose passport permits a holder to enter 177 separate countries, the most of any nation in the world.
I have to admit, it is actually quite an attractive document to open up. With a black cover that has the Crown insignia and fronds of a silver fern imposed on the front, and an outline of New Zealand on the back with the international code for New Zealand, NZL, the passport is immediately distinctive. Each page set aside for visas has a background design based on a theme specific to New Zealand. On one page you can see a whale, and on another, the tail of a diving whale recognizing the importance that Maori placed on sea life and colonial history of having whaling stations along the east coast. Pages 36-37 for example has a background image of Aoraki/Mt Cook, with a silver fern and topographic map imagery superimposed across the lower parts of the page.
It is a reminder of the good international stead that we as a nation are held in around the world. It is also a justification of the work that goes into ensuring our borders remain secure and are protected by properly resourced, funded and trained people.
The passport is therefore a highly sought after document and unfortunately, like those of other well respected nations, there will always be a few people who seek to obtain one illegally or use one for illegal purposes. They are the people who should never be allowed to hold a New Zealand passport again in their lives.
I believe that a 10 year New Zealand passport should only be available to New Zealand citizens who have resided continuously in this country for more than 10 years. The 5 year passport would be available to anyone who successfully applies to hold one.
Henley notes that whilst some countries, such as the United States are closing or restricting border access, most countries appear to be trying to improve access. It is thought that this is largely for economic reasons, such as tapping into the economic potential of tourism, freer migration.