NZ First's immigrant and refugee Bill 'nonsense' - expert

A New Zealand First proposal to test whether the values of migrants and refugees matched those of Kiwis has been called "nonsense".

The Respecting New Zealand Values Bill, which passed at the party's AGM on Sunday, includes asking new arrivals to respect gender equality, religious freedom and New Zealand law.

But some within the party are uneasy with the idea, saying it could be seen as racist. Internal Affairs Minister and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin said the Bill was probably unnecessary, NZME reported.

Appearing on The AM Show on Monday, Massey University Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Spoonley said citizenship tests are "confusing and inconsistent".

"There isn't a test which established what your values are, it's nonsense really," he said.

"It is always controversial, and if you look at the UK citizenship test, it's generally described as a very bad pub quiz.

"We might say, 'When did women get the vote in New Zealand?' You can get a right or wrong answer on that, but are you in favour of gender equality? Well you're only going to give one answer if you want to get into the country."

One delegate at the AGM said "people who don't adhere to the wishes of our people and our Government should be asked to consider going back to their own country where they came from".

But Prof Spoonley said determining what New Zealand's values actually are could be "quite difficult" to tie down.

"We've never had a debate about what those values are exactly, they're changing all the time.

"I might suggest the Treaty of Waitangi might be one of those things that we should ask people coming into the country - is it something they would be prepared to commit to? But if I raise that at a New Zealand First conference I'm pretty sure I'd get a variety of responses.

"I think it's that we do have a commitment to equality. But of course a whole lot of people in New Zealand don't actually practise gender equality. So why are you requiring that of an immigrant when people here don't actually practise it?"