ACT Party leader David Seymour has been accused of fuelling prejudice after sending a letter to his constituents warning against mentally-ill state housing tenants in his area.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) has proposed building a 25-unit complex in the wealthy Auckland suburb of Epsom.
But Epsom residents are unimpressed, saying previous HNZ tenants have held orgies and done hard drugs. Others claim past tenants have urinated in public and abused and harassed women, leaving residents living in fear.
In his letter, Mr Seymour warned of the risks the new tenants could pose, and called on residents to express their discontent.
"There is also a chance that some of the future residents will have social and mental health issues who will need to have special support measures in place," he wrote, according to NZME.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford is unhappy with Mr Seymour's letter, describing it as "appalling" and accusing him of scaremongering.
"David Seymour is fuelling people's worst prejudices," he told NZME.
"Anyone, from any community, can suffer from mental health issues. Whether you live in a 10-bedroom mansion or a state house is irrelevant."
But Mr Seymour has refused to apologise for his language, claiming his constituents have been "victimised".
"Frankly, sometimes you need to tell it like it is. And the truth in this particular case is that people in this neighbourhood have been victimised by Housing New Zealand," he told NZME.
"The question is are you going to dump 25 dwellings worth of people into a location where they don't have proper support?"