Christopher Luxon has called on the Children's Minister to visit the under-fire Oranga Tamariki youth justice facilities despite admitting he has never been himself.
The youth justice facilities have been in the headlines recently over a series of high-profile scandals.
National Party leader Luxon was appearing on AM on Wednesday morning to give his thoughts on a brutal filmed MMA-style fight - which was exclusively revealed by Newshub on Tuesday - that occurred last month at Korowai Manaaki in South Auckland.
Luxon called on Children's Minister Kelvin Davis to take responsibility for the fight.
"There are major challenges obviously in Oranga Tamariki and again I think we've got to ask the minister to actually step up and actually lead because we've seen issues of sexual abuse, we've seen rioting, we've seen fighting and violence like this and it's utterly unacceptable," he said.
"The question for me is what is going on with the management of these facilities... it's wonderful that Mike Bush is in there and I'm a big supporter of Mike Bush but actually, the minister also needs to take responsibility because what has been going on for six years now."
Luxon told AM co-host Ryan Bridge Davis needs to get a better understanding of what is going on within these facilities.
"He obviously doesn't have a feel for what's happening on the ground and I just think as a politician, you've got to go out and actually see it for yourself and actually see what's happening and spend time," he said.
When asked if he's visited any of these youth justice facilities, Luxon said he hadn't.
A spokesperson for Minister Davis told Newshub since he became Minister for Children Davis has visited the youth justice facilities on several occasions.
The spokesperson said Davis has visited the facilities on four occasions this year.
Bridge questioned Luxon if he should've visited the facilities before accusing Davis of not viewing them.
Luxon hit back, saying Davis is the minister responsible for these facilities.
"If you're the minister responsible for it, I mean your job is to make sure these vulnerable young people are actually kept safe. That is job number one," he told AM.
"You're there to try and re-train and make an intervention to turn their lives around, that's all good stuff, but clearly that is not life skills, that is not one of the promises is there."
Davis appeared on AM following Luxon's interview and told the show the Labour Government is addressing the issues within the youth justice facilities.
"That's what we're doing, we're owning it by saying we suspect there are problems and we're going out and fixing it," Davis said.
"I am responsible for making sure that the children of New Zealand are safe and by having this review and finding the problems and fixing them, that is taking responsibility."
A review of Oranga Tamariki youth justice facilities was implemented last month, with part of that looking into if there is a problem with the culture.
"We implemented the review because we believe or suspected things weren't quite right and what we're doing is flushing things out," Davis told AM.
"When you go to flush things out, you shouldn't be surprised that things get flushed out and like I said earlier, what would be worse is if things had continued to happen in secret, which is what has gone on for probably decades."
Oranga Tamariki has been in the headlines a lot recently, with several high-profile events sparking questions about cultural issues within youth justice facilities.
Children's Minister Kelvin Davis revealed to AM on Wednesday nearly a dozen Oranga Tamariki staff members have been stood down recently, pending investigation for their behaviour and conduct.
Newshub exclusively revealed on Tuesday footage of the fight that occurred at Korowai Manaaki in south Auckland. Police are investigating and four staff members at the facility have been stood down.
Davis said the fight is "very disturbing" and the fact staff members were in the room and did nothing is "totally unacceptable" while Luxon said it was "heartbreaking" and "sickening".
Just a few days earlier at the same facility, a 40-hour standoff with five armed teenagers who escaped onto the roof came to an end when they were given KFC and McDonald's to come down.
A week earlier, five other teenagers also escaped and made it onto the roof at the Te Puna Wai o Tuhinapo youth justice facility near Christchurch. They caused significant damage and a staff member suffered a fractured wrist.
They also spent the night on the roof before also receiving fast food to end the stand-off.
Four days before that, it was revealed two staff members were removed from the Government department residences after allegations of inappropriate and sexual behaviour surfaced.
"I'm not comfortable with what happened in the youth justice facilities. I've got the Minister for Children looking at what our options are to prevent these things from happening again," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said when asked about the 40-hour stand-off in south Auckland.
Watch the full interview with Christopher Luxon in the video above.