'No evidence' people smugglers targeting New Zealand - Golriz Ghahraman

A Green Party MP says there is no evidence people smugglers are targeting our shores.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister has fired off a warning, insisting New Zealand is being marketed as a destination for people smugglers.

Peter Dutton says that 130 Sri Lankan asylum seekers intercepted in Malaysia over the weekend were headed for New Zealand.

However Green Party immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman is accusing him of scaremongering.

"There's no evidence other than him making these comments," she says.

"And it's something he started doing around the time that our Prime Minister essentially embarrassed his Government."

In a statement released on Saturday police said the tanker, called Etra, had 98 men, 24 women and nine children on board.

"The other point is New Zealand is now being marketed as a definite destination," Mr Dutton said.

"Those people cannot come to our country unless they're issued with a visa, and it's a very different story if you're coming out of Auckland or Wellington - you can jump on a plane into Sydney, Brisbane, and then claim protection or whatever the case might be."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't say whether the vessel was bound for New Zealand or if it could even make it - only insisting such boats need to be stopped.

But she does agree New Zealand is being sold as a promised land for people willing to risk everything.

"The destination may not be New Zealand - in some cases it may, but it's all a marketing exercise by repugnant people risking people's lives," she said.

When former Prime Minister John Key changed the law in 2012 to detain so-called "boat people", Labour said they were scaremongering, expressing doubt that any of these vessels - which it labelled 'ghost ships' - could make it to New Zealand.

Ms Ghahraman says boats have "never even got close" to New Zealand, and says Mr Dutton is using nasty politics.

"He's known as using the politics of hate and fear in Australian politics," she says.

"It's just not who we are in New Zealand."