Key queries Tyson visa decision

Prime Minister John Key says he doesn't understand the rationale behind a decision to grant convicted rapist Mike Tyson a visa to come to New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand granted the visa for the former boxer to speak at Mike Tyson's Day of Champions at Auckland's Vector Arena in November this year.

Mr Key told TVNZ's Breakfast today he didn't know how Immigration New Zealand had reached its decision and he didn't approve of "sanctioned behaviour in that regard".

He said he would have never approved a visa being granted to someone who had a serious conviction such as violence against a woman.

"I can see it from both sides, maybe it was a long time ago, but in my view they are very, very serious issues," he said.

Tyson, 46, was sentenced to six years in prison in 1992 for raping an 18-year-old woman.

He was released after three years.

Under New Zealand law anyone who has been sentenced to more than five years in prison will be denied a visa to enter the country.

There is discretion to look at applications on a case-by-case basis.

"Sometimes we make decisions that people have done the crime, done the time and they no longer present the threat that may have been the case," Mr Key said.

"Other times we say that's a black mark against you and we will never look through that."

Tyson said at a press conference in Las Vegas recently he would not beg to be allowed to come to New Zealand.

- Kate Shuttleworth of APNZ

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