Christopher Luxon has defended his south Auckland garage comments after being accused of "stereotyping a generation".
The National Party leader claimed gang life looked attractive to youth who "sit around in garages in South Auckland" after being asked how to prevent youth crime.
"If you're sitting in a garage in south Auckland with your two brothers and you're thinking about life and where you're going, consciously or unconsciously, the gang life looks pretty attractive," Luxon said earlier this month.
The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio slammed Luxon's comment saying they were an outrageous generalisation of south Auckland youth.
"Stay out of my south Auckland garage Chris Luxon. Garages are places of family gatherings, for worshipping, funerals, 21st birthdays, Christmas celebrations," Sio said.
"You're attacking the South Auckland garage with your dog whistle stereotypes when if you lived in South Auckland you'd know the garage is a sanctuary for many South Auckland families. Garages are sanctuaries for families - especially in South Auckland."
Luxon defended his comments on AM on Wednesday saying they were taken out of context.
"I've actually met with a lot of young people in south Auckland who actually already challenged and actually working with community organisations and trying to understand what their life is like," Luxon told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.
"Those comments I think have been taking a little bit out of context. What I was not wanting to do was disrespect south Auckland in any stretch of the imagination."
Luxon said the comments came from a specific conversation he had with a community organisation in Counties Manukau.
"I was asked a serious question about what are the drivers of crime and that was the conversation that I was reflecting and thinking about," he said.
"We have some major challenges, not just in south Auckland around poverty but across this country and that's one of the big drivers that drives young people into gang life."
When questioned by Chan-Green about how his comments might provide a negative stereotype and consequences for south Auckland, Luxon said that was "not at all what he was referencing".
"The conversation I then had with that organisation and those people was actually about, well, poverty, the housing crisis. Those things are very real drivers of why gang life looks really attractive if you're sitting in poverty and in a garage, so that's what that was about," Luxon explained.
"I just would say, look, if we can't actually talk about these things in a really upfront kind of way, we have some really serious challenges in New Zealand.
"We're going to have to turn the country around and that requires us to front up to reality and actually talk about these issues in a way that people, actually can do so directly and that's what I was trying to do."
Luxon hopes he hasn't offended anyone with his comments.
"I'd hate to think anyone was offended, but the reality is we've got to talk straight up about what's going on, and otherwise we can't solve the problems that we have," Luxon said.
Watch the full interview with Christopher Luxon above.