Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pleads with Kiwis to stop buying things overseas

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealand to stop ordering non-essential goods from overseas amid the coronavirus lockdown.

On Monday Ardern confirmed couriers are classed as an essential service but "for the delivery of essential items".

"It does create an unfair playing field for those who are accessing products that aren't being sold in New Zealand offshore, then using our deliverers for those non-essential items," she said.

Ardern hinted there could be stricter regulations coming if people are not prioritising essential deliveries.

"I have asked the Ministry of Business and Innovation to look into it," she told media.

Ardern also asked for people to consider others when buying things online.

"There are a lot of New Zealand businesses who are playing by the rules, who are not trading, so that we can prioritise deliveries for our most vulnerable and in need.

"I'd ask you to think about that as well."

New Zealand is currently on alert level 4 to try and combat the spread of COVID-19.

The alert level means the entire country is under a near-total lockdown. The only businesses which are allowed to remain open are supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors. People are urged to stay in their homes unless it is absolutely necessary to leave. 

The lockdown will last for a minimum of four weeks - but could be extended if people do not play by the rules.