The Government is calling for an urgent report into faulty Takata airbags which have the potential to spray shrapnel when deployed.
Kris Faafoi, Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, said the airbags had been "a known issue for many years" and he wanted to ensure Kiwis were still safe.
It comes after the New Zealand Transport Agency said it wouldn't follow in the Australian Government's shoes and issue a compulsory recall on the vehicles.
In Australia it means the recall of about 4 million vehicles - in New Zealand it's believed to involve 180,000, however the Minister said he wants that number confirmed.
The faulty Takata airbags has led to at least 23 deaths worldwide and more than 230 serious injuries.
The chemical propellant in the airbag inflators can deteriorate in hot, humid conditions and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister and creating the debris.
The Australian government issued the recall which it says is the most significant in the country's history, affecting four million cars, or two in seven on its roads.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said there had been no reported incidents related to the faulty airbags in New Zealand, and there were voluntary recalls involving Takata airbags being undertaken by several different manufacturers in New Zealand.
"In order for a compulsory product recall of any kind to be ordered in New Zealand, the Fair Trading Act requires that there must be evidence both that the product poses a significant safety risk and evidence that the suppliers or manufacturers are not conducting a satisfactory recall," a spokesperson said.
The vast majority of recalls in New Zealand and in other jurisdictions were voluntary.
"The NZ Transport Agency is working with the vehicle industry to ensure that the current voluntary recalls are carried out to a satisfactory level and that all of the manufacturers involved in the recall are offering the appropriate repair or replacement to vehicle owners."
It's thought up to 180,000 New Zealand vehicles still need to have faulty airbags replaced.
The Minister said although he hadn't been asked by NZTA to intervene, he wanted an update on the situation.
"I have asked for an urgent report from NZTA to include an update as to the number of New Zealand vehicles affected and progress on the voluntary recall. This briefing will include an evaluation as to whether other measures are needed, and clarity on how this recall and the safety issues around these airbags are being monitored."
Once he had the report, he and Associate Transport Minister Julie-Ann Genter would consider if any additional measures were needed.
"My primary concern is to ensure that New Zealanders are kept safe and this has been a known issue for many years.
"This Government will act if there's a need to do so, because safety isn't something we think should ever be compromised."
Paul Smith, Consumer's head of testing, said the number of affected vehicles in New Zealand could be as high as 300,000.
"It's not as simple as saying a vehicle fitted with a potentially defective Takata airbag is deadly.
"Not all of the recalled airbags will explode on deployment, in fact, it's highly unlikely.
"However, there's no way of telling which inflators are defective, so the recall includes all cars fitted with them as a preventative measure.
Older "alpha" airbags, manufactured 11 to 16 years ago, are most at risk, especially if the car's in a hot and humid environment.
Of nearly four million vehicles affected in Australia, about 115,000 have alpha model airbags - 89,000 of those have been replaced.
"The Australian government has told manufacturers vehicles with alpha inflators are a top priority. Manufacturers will have to follow a strict schedule to have cars repaired. Cars in areas of high heat and humidity are of the highest priority, followed by cars that are older than six years."
The Motor Industry Association (MIA) estimates 300,000 or more vehicles in New Zealand are affected, with many being used-imports, he said.
"Those are subject to recalls in their country of origin – mostly Japan. The MIA and NZTA reported in September that 140,000 Kiwi motorists had been advised replacement inflators were available, and about half had taken their vehicles in for the fix.
"Since the issue came to light in 2013, less than a quarter of vehicles with affected airbags on our roads have been fixed. That's a poor return. If the recall and fix rate doesn't improve voluntarily, our government needs to consider making it mandatory.
"We have no reported incidents and enjoy a temperate climate, rather than the hot and humid conditions linked with these airbag failures.
"However, we're not in the clear. We have an old vehicle fleet – averaging almost 14 years old – so it's likely a higher proportion of our vehicles will be fitted with older alpha airbags. We think more needs to be done by manufacturers to identify and fix these vehicles as a priority."
Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said the Alpha model of the Takata airbag posed the most risk, adding about 10,000 cars had these airbags.
He said New Zealanders affected should have received letters telling them to get the bags replaced.
The AA said it was disappointed more people hadn't bothered to get faulty airbags replaced, despite receiving the letters.
AA general manager of motoring services, Stella Stocks, said more effort was needed to get all affected vehicles up to standard.
She said people needed to be educated on the risks of not getting their vehicles fixed immediately.
Car owners should check NZTA's website to see if their vehicle was affected.
Consumer NZ head of testing Paul Smith said manufacturers had been recalling vehicles with faulty airbags since 2013.
"Part of the problem is the scale of the recall. It's impossible to co-ordinate the immediate replacement of airbags in 100 million vehicles worldwide," Smith said.
"Exacerbating the problem is that many early replacement airbag inflators need to be replaced again."
Not all of the recalled airbags would explode on deployment.
"However, there's no way of telling which inflators are defective, so the recall includes all cars fitted with them as a preventative measure."
Since the issue came to light in 2013, less than a quarter of vehicles with affected airbags on New Zealand's roads had been fixed, he said.
"That's a poor return. If the recall and fix rate doesn't improve voluntarily, our government needs to consider making it mandatory."