Housing Minister Nick Smith says he won't be introducing a foreign-buyers register for New Zealand property.

On TV3's The Nation this morning, Mr Smith pointed to new measures introduced in this years Budget. They would track non-resident foreign buyers by making them provide an IRD number, tax identification number from their own country and current identification.

"What we're not going to have is one of those cheap ill-informed debates that targets one ethnic group. That's not fair. That's not the New Zealand way."

Mr Smith was responding to debate sparked last week when the Labour Party released leaked figures from Auckland real estate firm Barfoot and Thompson that appeared to show people with Chinese names bought property in the city at a rate far above the Chinese proportion of the population.


He said the government received advice that foreign buyers were not having "significant effect" on the housing market.

"What we got from Labour last week is a bunch of information on Chinese sounding surnames... We're saying it's not the dominant issue in respect to making housing affordable for Kiwi families," Mr Smith said.

"Barfoot and Thompson who actually own the data do not agree with Labour's analysis."

Mr Smith said he did know that 25,0000 non New Zealand residents claimed rent and income deduction on houses in the country. That equated to about 1.2 per cent of the total number of houses.

Housing supply was the most pressing issue, Mr Smith said.

The Productivity Commission had said there was a 32,000 house shortfall in Auckland and the government was working to overcome that. Mr Smith said he was "absolutely" confident the shortfall would be corrected by the next election in two years.

He also cited data showing housing was "substantially more affordable" across the country since National came into power in 2008.

"Arguments about Chinese sounding names [are] not going to make a boat of difference to the young families who we want in homes."