The Minister of Civil Defence and Customs says Chelsea Manning's visa decision sits with Immigration New Zealand, not him.
Ms Manning has been barred from entering Australia and speaking at an event because of her previous convictions, and she's set to speak in New Zealand next weekend in Auckland and Wellington.
She needs a special direction to be able to get into the country because of her conviction.
But there have been calls to block the former US Army intelligence analyst's visa to New Zealand.
Whether or not she will be allowed to enter New Zealand currently sits with Immigration New Zealand, Minister of Civil Defence and Customs Kris Faafoi said, telling The AM Show the decision will then be passed to him if Immigration New Zealand rejects her application.
"There's a stage process. She needs a special direction to be able to get into the country because of her conviction," he said, referring to Ms Manning's charges in the US of espionage and theft.
She was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking military files to Wikileaks. Her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, and she was released from prison in May 2017 after a tumultuous seven years behind bars which included two suicide attempts and a hunger strike.
"We've had some high-profile people in the past apply and get in and some high-profile people who have applied and haven't got in. But we deal with it on a case-by-case basis," said Mr Faafoi.
In 2014, hip-hop artist Tyler, the Creator and his rap group Odd Future were banned from entering New Zealand for a concert after Immigration New Zealand deemed them a "threat to public order or the public interest".
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Boxer Mike Tyson was also banned from entering New Zealand in 2012 because of his 1992 rape conviction.
Odd Future's visas were revoked just an hour before their flight to New Zealand, according to The Atlantic, and the same could happen to Ms Manning.
Mr Faafoi said if the decision on Ms Manning lands on his desk, he will "get a case note that will go through the ins and outs of her convictions". He said some "other jurisdictions have let her in," but he will wait until Immigration New Zealand makes its decision.
The Customs portfolio fell to Mr Faafoi after Meka Whaitiri stepped down on Thursday, while an investigation is carried out into a staffing matter in her office, allegedly involving a physical incident.
"The Prime Minister has asked me to step in and cover as the Minister for Customs while the investigation is taking place," Mr Faafoi said.
Watch the full interview with Kris Faafoi above.
The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.