Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters have joined the global chorus of condemnation against China's contentious new national security law for Hong Kong.
Beijing passed the legislation on Tuesday, bypassing the city's local Parliament, which New Zealand politicians have suggested breaks the 'one country, two systems' framework Hong Kong has been operating under.
A statement released by Peters on Wednesday said the New Zealand Government is expressing "deep disappointment" at the passage by China's National People's Congress Standing Committee of a national security law for Hong Kong.
The new law defines four crimes: separatist activity, state subversion, terrorist activity and collusion with foreign forces, which can be punishable by up to life in prison.
"New Zealand has consistently emphasised its serious concern about the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong without inclusive consultation or the proper involvement of all of Hong Kong's institutions," Peters said.
"We share the international community's stake in preserving the high degree of autonomy and freedom available to Hong Kong and its people under the 'one country, two systems' framework.
"It is this autonomy and freedom, together with open governance, judicial independence, and consensus on the rule of law that have been fundamental to Hong Kong's growth as a global financial and economic hub since 1997."
Prime Minister Ardern, when asked on Tuesday to respond to reports that China had passed the new security law, said the Government had made its position clear.
"We have taken a clear view that in our view this moves away from the one system but two operations kind of system of government so we've given a clear view on that and made statements to that effect, and of course we see the disruption that has been caused as a result.
"Sometimes you'll see collective statements, sometimes you'll see singular… you'll see the same messaging and very little difference between the Five Eyes partners and the positions we've all taken on this issue."
Green Party justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman described the new law in a tweet as "a terrifying breach of democracy and human rights" in Hong Kong.
The Chinese Embassy in New Zealand has been approached for a response.
The UK's ambassador to the United Nations Julian Braithwaite has delivered a joint statement on behalf of 27 countries - including Australia and New Zealand - expressing concern over the new law.
US politicians have been scathing, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who described the new law as "brutal" and said the aim of it is to "frighten, intimidate" and "supress the speech" of the people of Hong Kong.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as "draconian".
Hong Kong, officially named the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, was returned to Beijing from Britain in 1997 under the 'one country, two systems' approach.
Peters said China needs to protect human rights. He said the New Zealand Government will be studying the legislation to see how it will impact the Hong Kong people.
"This is a critical moment for fundamental human rights and freedoms protected in Hong Kong for generations. New Zealand will be studying the legislation carefully, and closely monitoring its implementation and impact on the people of Hong Kong, with whom we share close links."
Beijing said the legislation was necessary after sometimes violent anti-government and anti-Beijing protests rocked the city since June last year.
Hong Kong police arrested 15 pro-democracy activists at the time, including Democratic Party founder Martin Lee and trade union leader Lee Cheuk-yang. They were charged with offences including organising and joining "unlawful assemblies".
Damaging certain transportation vehicles and equipment will now be considered an act of terrorism, and anyone convicted of violating the new security legislation will not be allowed to stand in any Hong Kong elections.