Prime Minister John Key has criticised Labour's use of leaked real estate data as desperate, and believes most people with Chinese-sounding names who buy property have a real connection to New Zealand.
"They will know the people on that list or the vast bulk of them...will be either residents or citizens. Many of whom Labour would have welcomed to this country. And yet, on the same point, they are desperate enough to try and dress that up as some sort of argument around housing," Mr Key told Morning Report.
"No one is arguing that we don't need better information, the Government has moved on that. But they know that, they know that there is better information coming."
"It's desperate in my view, they know the information is wrong and they know the information is misleading and they can claim whatever they want...it's very different from the Labour Party I always knew," John Key said.
Labour has used leaked real estate data to show 40 per cent of home buyers in Auckland over a three month period had Chinese surnames. The analysis was based on 45 per cent of real estate sales in Auckland.
It says the Government has refused to acknowledge or properly examine the effect overseas buyers are having on an overheated Auckland housing market, and it was forced to use limited data because there is a lack of official information.
Mr Key was overseas on holiday during the release of the data and ensuing debate, and made his first extensive comments on the matter this morning.
He said he thought it was highly unlikely that many people in China would decide to invest in New Zealand property without a link to this country but, "there will be some...but not very many".
Mr Key said if the Government's own data showed a genuine issue with overseas buyers, the Government would consider further steps. However, he said moves to limit overseas buyers in countries such as Australia had been largely ineffective.
"I have always said, if the data shows that there is a real problem and we need to consider further steps, the Government will consider those steps.
"[But] any own personal view is I think you will find that, yep, there will be a percentage of people on that list who are non-residents. But I think...it will certainly be far lower than what they were trying to present."
Speaking on Newstalk ZB, Mr Key acknowledged significant issues affecting New Zealand's economic outlook, but said pessimists "are going to overblow those things".
"Actually, the economic fundamentals of New Zealand are very, very strong. There are a few negative things. That would be, certainly dairy prices are down significantly from where they have been. You certainly see uncertainty in terms of Greece and China is, without doubt, slowing down a little bit."
However, Mr Key said the other side of the coin was that other areas of the economy were performing very well, including manufacturing, ICT, wine, tourism and construction sectors.
"Dairy is 5 per cent of our economy. So, yes, dairy prices are down and it's tough on those dairy farmers who are resilient people, but 95 per cent of our economy is not involved in that."