The stepfather of murdered teenager Karla Cardno faces deportation after being locked up in a cell and described as an overstayer.
Mark Middleton has been in New Zealand since 1962, when he immigrated with his family as a four-year-old.
Mr Middleton was arrested and put in a police cell last week.
He's accused of being in New Zealand unlawfully since 1986 after he went overseas for a holiday.
Immigration New Zealand said in a statement he was issued with a 30-day visitor visa on his return and has made no application for citizenship since then.
But his lawyer Keith Jefferies said his client was allowed to be here because he was a pre-approved immigrant.
"Are they trying to tell me that Mark Middleton as a four-year-old snuck into the country, avoided immigration, avoided customs, enrolled himself at school and has remained an overstayer since 1962... it's absolutely absurd," he said.
Mr Jefferies said Mr Middleton had lost his job and cared for his sick wife and teenage son.
He has a couple of weeks to respond to Immigration New Zealand.
Mr Middleton is the stepfather of murdered schoolgirl Karla Cardno, who was raped and tortured before being buried alive in 1989.
Karla Cardno's killer Paul Dally remains behind bars after being denied parole numerous times.