Vision NZ leader Hannah Tamaki has suggested paying refugees to stay at home rather than coming to New Zealand.
The political aspirant, who is hoping to get through the 5 percent threshold at the 2020 election, appeared on The AM Show to discuss immigration policy after a post on Facebook from her campaign manager was labelled racist.
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"A Party that puts Kiwi's first, not immigrants, refugees and people fleeing from their own countries they have managed to destroy due to lack of values. None of these Middle East countries immigrant to NZ (sic) because it’s worse than where they are, bout time they stayed home and fixed it," Jevan Goulter wrote.
Tamaki didn't condemn Goulter's comments when questioned about it.
"He's not wrong, he's actually bringing out a point and I'm not going to say I disagree with the point, but maybe let's look at bringing people in when we can actually look after them."
But she wouldn't go so far as to say she wouldn't allow refugees to come to New Zealand, instead suggesting they're encouraged to stay away.
"I would not stop refugees, but I would look at the numbers first and say are we capable of looking after them."
"When it's $100,000 a year to look after them here in New Zealand, wouldn't it be better if we said 'look we'll give you $50,000 to stay in your country and do something for your country.'
"They only want to come here because New Zealand is better."
According to the United Nations, which handles most of the refugees sent to New Zealand, somebody given refugee status will have a "well-founded fear" of persecution.
"Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries."
The AM Show host Duncan Garner put this to Tamaki, saying people coming to New Zealand as refugees face torture, sexual violence or murder if they return to their home country, but she said Kiwis have issues too.
"Do you think that our people on the street now aren't going through pain and suffering too? New Zealanders are going through a lot of pain and suffering."
Garner also suggested Tamaki open the doors to Destiny Church, which she runs with her husband Brian Tamaki, for homeless people to sleep in. She said she couldn't do it for fear of fines from Auckland Council, before adding the homelessness problem was worse in the central city anyway.
"Well look there's churches in the city here and it's mainly in the cities where the problems are. Out our way in south Auckland we're probably a little further from where the homeless are."
Tamaki did admit she does see homeless people throughout Manurewa, and when she does see them she gives them hot chocolates.
She gave a suggestion for who should be helping.
"Lotto perhaps could give them a little bit more. If you win tonight, Lotto, give them some money. Give something to the homeless."
Auckland Council's manager of regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, told Newshub Destiny Church's Auckland site was in a light industrial zone and would require resource consent to provide residential accommodation.
"The surrounding buildings house a number of industrial activities and if Destiny Church were to bring a residential type activity into that location the Council would need to be sure that this activity wouldn't have an impact on the neighbouring businesses' ability to operate lawfully.
"The building is also not currently certified under the Building Act with the expectation that people are sleeping there overnight, and so, if they were to offer accommodation, there might be requirements to amend their fire systems and other aspects of the building to reflect this."
Pearce encouraged Destiny to contact the council if it was considering housing the homeless or face fines for violating the Resource Management Act 1991 and Building Act 2004.
"The maximum fine if prosecuted and convicted under the Resource Management Act 1991 is $600,000 for a company or $300,000 for an individual and $200,000 under the Building Act 2004."