Prime Minister John Key says he has faith in technology to address climate change problems, just a week after his deputy dismissed a sea level rise report as speculation.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright said last week the Government to take more of a role in preparing for sea level rise.
It potentially threatens nearly 9000 houses situated within 50cm of the spring high tide mark. The houses alone would be worth $3 billion, Dr Wright said.
Her office has a budget of more than $3 million to advise the government on environmental issues, but deputy prime minister and Finance Minister Bill English immediately described the report as "pretty speculative" and said no money would be budgeted to look at the problem.
Mr Key, appearing on the Paul Henry programme this morning, was less dismissive when pressed about Mr English's response.
Climate change science was well established but less was known about what would happen in 50 years, he said.
Dealing with the effect of sea level rise was a local government issue, and every community had to decided what it wanted to do, he said.
"I am actually quite confident, over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, the world will adopt so many new technologies actually our carbon footprint will reduce."
Agriculture contributes 48 percent of New Zealand's carbon emissions, but Mr Key said technology to address that is not far away.
"My scientists tell me within three to four years they are going to have nailed that."
The United Nations Climate Change Conference starts in Paris later this month with hopes a legally binding agreement on climate change.
New Zealand is taking a new target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.