Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been named as a front runner in the New Zealander of the Year awards, amid a constitutional crisis in Canberra over his unwanted Kiwi citizenship.

Organisers said Mr Joyce received the second-most nominations for the award after a public appeal for candidates.

The awards were established in 2010 to recognise people who have "contributed to making New Zealand a better place to live".

"It's absolutely for real," awards manager Glyn Taylor said. "Though I'm not sure how serious the nomination was."

The only person who outpolled Mr Joyce was Metiria Turei, a politician who resigned as co-leader of the New Zealand Greens this month after admitting to welfare fraud.

Australian-born Barnaby Joyce discovered earlier this month that he unwittingly inherited New Zealand citizenship from his Kiwi father, putting him in breach of a constitutional clause banning dual citizens from sitting in parliament.

Mr Joyce has refused to stand down and has taken his case to the High Court, determined to preserve his government's one-seat majority in the lower house.

Six senators, including two from Mr Joyce's National Party, are in the same predicament, and the court will hear their cases in mid-October.

Mr Taylor said the New Zealander of the Year nominees would not be vetted until late September and it was likely Mr Joyce's name would be removed from the list of candidates then.

To win, nominees must either be New Zealand citizens or have lived in the country for five years.

Australia's deputy leader meets neither criteria, as he told parliament on 15 August that he had formally renounced his New Zealand citizenship.

Mr Taylor added: "It's also not unusual for people of the moment to attract significant support during the public nominations period".

Past winners of the award include All Blacks legend Richie McCaw and Hollywood director Taika Waititi.