'I just want to be free' - Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani undecided on seeking asylum in NZ

Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani is hoping to extend his visa to stay in New Zealand longer, but didn't want to expand further on whether or not he would seek to make New Zealand his permanent home.

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Behrouz Boochani talked about his warm welcome in New Zealand and how it compared to his treatment from Australia. Source: 1 NEWS

Boochani arrived in Christchurch this morning, presented with a pounamu necklace during his welcome from Christchurch's mayor Lianne Dalziel and Ngāi Tahu.

Last night Boochani arrived in Auckland after having fled authorities in Iran for over six and a half years. He will speak about his story for the first time in person as a free man at WORD Christchurch next week.

For most of the past six years, Boochani had been held in Australian detention centres - Christmas Island at first, then Manus Island having been picked up by the Australian Navy in the sea between Australia and Indonesia. He was held without trial or any criminal record.

But, while being held Boochani began to write. His award-winning book, No Friends but the Mountains, which was written entirely from WhatsApp messages and then translated to English, came from some of his words during that time.

Speaking to media in Christchurch this morning he said he'd been warmly welcomed by New Zealanders.

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The journalist who’s arrived in New Zealand from Manu Island was presented with a pounamu necklace. Source: Breakfast

When asked if he wanted to make New Zealand home he said, "I don't know. Definitely I will try extend my visa because I think we have many plans. Hopefully New Zealand lets me stay here just for another month, just to share this story with more people.

"Now, I want to be free just for a while as a writer, nothing else," he said, adding he wouldn't go ahead with any application process for a while.

"For now I prefer I don't answer this question directly. Just, I want to be free." 

Boochani told media arriving in Auckland last night: "I thought that I am very happy that I survived," he said, adding that many others were not so lucky. "I could die by a small infection."

When asked about his plans, at the top of his list he said, "I want to walk in a long street just by myself".

But he also has events lined up in Auckland tomorrow, then Wellington, before heading back to Christchurch for WORD festival.