New Zealand First is denying claims by Chinese New Zealand leaders that an op-ed slamming Chinese immigration was actually a PR stunt by the party.
The author of the opinion piece, who wanted to remain unnamed, said in the article published by the Herald last night that he was an Auckland-based Chinese-born real estate agent.
Lawyer and member of the New Zealand China Council Arthur Loo was one of three Chinese New Zealand leaders who responded today.
Loo said he thought the author was "cowardly" for penning the opinion piece and that it was likely to have come from the "black ops" department of NZ First.
Mandarin Pages editor David Soh said the article was probably written by someone who was not Chinese.
New Zealand First leader Rt Hon Winston Peters, said suggestions that the article was made up were untrue.
"We can categorically inform the NZ China Council's Arthur Loo, who said it comes out of a 'black ops department of NZ First', that no such department exists. His suggestion that it 'came from the publicity department of NZ First' is also incorrect. We received an email from the writer and later the article, which he sent to the NZ Herald.
"David Soh, Mandarin Pages editor, doubts the writer is Chinese or a migrant. From our knowledge he is Chinese, and we take him on his word that he has worked in Auckland as a real estate agent."
Peters added that by condemning the man for his opinion Soh and Loo were "ignoring the fact that this country allows freedom of speech".
"It is dreadfully unfair in an open and free society like New Zealand that the writer is labelled a 'coward'. On the contrary, society should value a person who is brave enough to go public with sentiments and attitudes that too frequently are hidden for fear that anyone who speaks out will be ostracised."