Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter says Somali community leaders are "appalled" that someone from their community was responsible for the incident on a flight from Blenheim to Christchurch this morning.
A 33-year-old Blenheim woman, originally from Somalia, is being held by police after attacking two pilots during the flight.
Mr Carter said he had spoken with Somali community leaders about the incident.
"Members of the Somali community are concerned that today's events will cause other New Zealanders to judge all Somalis by the actions of just one person," he said.
"They don't want to see their community stigmatised by this serious incident."
Mr Carter said he had been extensively engaged with the community during the five years he had been Ethnic Affairs Minister and knew they were hard working, law abiding people.
He said he would be in Christchurch tomorrow and hoped to meet personally with members of the community.
"I want to assure Somali New Zealanders that the Government will not tolerate any racial or religious intolerance," he said.
There are about 1800 Somali people in New Zealand, according to the 2006 Census.