Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said New Zealand was not in a position to judge the 400 visas issued each year for women to enter the country for an arranged marriage.
He was responding to a question at the National Party conference in Christchurch from a delegate concerned at domestic violence cases within arranged marriages going through the Manukau District Court.
"When we are talking about family violence, I am not sure that we as a country can hold our hands up and say 'we are good enough to judge those cultures'," Woodhouse said.
"When we clean up our own act, then maybe we will be able to look at a separate group and then make a different judgment,"
Most of the 400 visas are for women from India to marry Indian men.
They are usually temporary visas for a year, when they can then apply for permanent residency.
"Culturally arranged marriages are a normal part of many of the cultures that are deeply embedded in New Zealand culture," Woodhouse said.
"When we [issue visas] we go to great lengths to establish they are of appropriate age, that there is no coercion, and that there is no dowry - which is illegal in New Zealand. Audrey Young