Jacinda Ardern is being accused of treating politics "as a game" after an old social media post emerged appearing to show her calling for housing to be viewed as a human right.
But a spokesperson for the Prime Minister has defended the comments saying they were "made when she was in opposition".
The Human Rights Commission announced on Monday it will launch a national inquiry into housing as it says there has been a failure to address the issue by successive Governments. Ardern then dodged questions about whether the housing crisis is a human rights crisis.
"I believe we have a housing crisis and everything we've done as a Government has been an acknowledgement that we need to act and we need to do what we can," she said.
However an old Facebook post of Ardern's from April 2016 has reemerged where she appears to call on the then-National Government to take action over housing issues.
"So some local politicians have suggested banning what they have called 'beggars.' I have an alternative idea for him," she wrote.
"What about banning Housing New Zealand from ever treating a garage or a car as shelter, and an excuse for someone to simply be added to the back of a very long waiting list.
"What about banning work and income from ever letting anyone walk out their door without shelter.
"What about banning a hospital from letting a child and their family continually go back to a home that keeps making them sick, but is all parents can afford or find.
"Or we could look at this whole issue differently, and make housing a human right. If you're going to ban anything, make it the cause, not the symptom."
The post has been widely criticised by social media users and was questioned by ACT leader David Seymour.
"Imagine if Jacinda Ardern became the Prime Minister and had the chance to fix all of those problems... oh wait," he said.
"That's why in Opposition ACT proposes practical policies instead of merely posturing."
A spokesperson from Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) said the post from "2016 Jacinda" was "great" but believes Ardern's comments "reflect this very superficial and dangerous sentiment of politics being practised as a 'game'".
"We often hear people talk about politics in this way - to 'play the game' in order to get into power and now that Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister with a majority Labour government we'd like to ask where's this same energy from 2016?"
They said the current Labour government has the capacity to treat housing as a human right and urged them to take action.
"Choosing not to perpetuate the notion it's ok to do politics in this way - to treat it as a game in saying whatever's required in competing for power and then continuing to perpetuate existing colonial ideologies that shape our policies when they get it.
"How about we introduce a new way of practising politics - to stay true to what you say. As Jacinda herself says to treat the cause (of all our societal ills), not the symptom?"
When asked if Ardern still stands by the comments, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the post "was made when she was in opposition".
"The current manifesto commitment to continue the welfare overhaul is addressing the issues that the Facebook post is seeking to identify.
"In regards to your question around the housing crisis - the Prime Minister has previously said: 'I don't mind what label you put on it. A crisis is a crisis'."