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Could Australia's Deputy PM become New Zealander of the Year?

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reacts in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, on August 14 2017.

[CANBERRA] Ensnared in a constitutional crisis that's undermining the government, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has sought to distance himself from his fatherland and renounce his New Zealand citizenship.

That's not stopping cheeky Kiwis from claiming him as one of their own.

Mr Joyce, who was born in Australia to a Kiwi father, has the second-most nominations for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year, giving him a chance to win an award which in recent years has gone to filmmaker Taika Waititi and All Blacks star Richie McCaw, the New Zealand Herald reported Friday.

Still, his eligibility for the awards is yet to be determined; just as his status as a dual national has raised doubts about his ability to sit in Australia's parliament.

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Jokes at Mr Joyce's expense are set to rumble on until at least mid-October, when the High Court will start hearings on whether he and other lawmakers have breached the constitution by being dual citizens.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull isn't seeing the funny side though - should his deputy be ruled invalid, his government's one-seat majority in the lower house could go with him.