Donald Trump's s**thole comments 'hugely offensive' - Ardern

Jacinda Ardern says Donald Trump's 'shithole' comment was offensive, but has stopped short of calling the US President a racist.

Mr Trump last week asked at a meeting with lawmakers, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

He later denied using the word "shithole", but numerous lawmakers - both Democrats and Republicans - confirmed he did, in reference to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.

The phrase was widely condemned, with even the United Nations calling it racist.

"There's no other way to describe a response to that, other than hugely offensive," Ms Ardern told The AM Show on Monday morning.

"That statement is offensive. How could you describe it in any other way?"

Pressed by host Duncan Garner if she believes the US President is a racist, Ms Ardern neither confirmed nor denied.

"Some have described it that way. I know the African nations in particular have described it in that way... There's no doubt those are offensive remarks."

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

Ms Ardern said if Mr Trump described New Zealand that way, we would be "hugely offended".

"It's not just about the country - it's a remark about the people of that country. 'Why are we letting those people in?' is his general remark there."

After co-host Mark Richardson pointed out Mr Trump was elected on a platform of putting "America first", Ms Ardern said there were better ways to do that.

"You can certainly take pride in your nation, as New Zealanders do. We're enormously proud of the country we are. But we don't do that in such a way that that diminishes the value of another country."

She said won't let the President's offensive language get in the way of New Zealand's relationship with the US.

"America always goes beyond one person. I'm mindful of that."