A Catholic church in Masterton has come under fire for displaying the controversial slogan "all lives matter" on its message board.
A Twitter user posted a photo of the slogan on social media, saying it was "pretty disgusting".
"All lives do not matter until black lives matter. All lives do not matter until brown lives matter. It's not white people being shot because they're white. Learn what white privilege is. This is tone deaf and racist," she wrote.
The phrase "all lives matter" has sprung up in recent years in response to the saying "black lives matter", and has experienced a resurgence amid the anti-racism movement sweeping the world.
"Black lives matter" is used to protest police violence against black people, and has been at the forefront of public awareness in the last few weeks following the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of four white American police officers.
Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for a sustained period of time during an arrest.
A young woman was chased down and yelled at in Auckland last week for rubbing out the phrase "all lives matter" that was written in chalk on the ground at an NZ Outdoors Party event.
In video of the exchange posted to social media, the woman explains people only say "all lives matter" as a response to "black lives matter", and says it is a way of erasing black people.
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has also condemned the saying, as well as the phrase "it's okay to be white".
"The phrases are known to be associated with groups who deny that racism exists or who would minimise its impact. Such statements are often intended to convey a message of intolerance, racism and division. There is no place for that in New Zealand," Foon said in a statement.
The church, the Archbishop of Wellington, and the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference have been contacted for comment.
Hamilton minister Reverend Frank Ritchie said he wanted to assume the best intentions were in place in making the message, but that it was "misguided".
"I agree all lives matter. As Christians we believe everybody's created in the image of God," he said.
But Ritchie, who joined in the Black Lives Matter march in Hamilton this weekend, said Jesus was "all about putting the focus on people who needed attention at any given time".
"I'm sure it wouldn't have been out of place to hear Jesus say 'lepers' lives matter'," he said, adding that Jesus was known for caring about "downtrodden" groups of society".
"If there is a group that is pushed out, discriminated against . . . it is valid to say their lives matter."
Ritchie did not know St Patrick's church in Masterton himself so could not say for sure what their motives were in posting the message, but said he couldn't assume there was "malice" intended.
"I do think it was misguided."