New Zealand has boosted its aid for Venezuela's humanitarian crisis but again stopped short of endorsing an alternative government for the troubled South American nation.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters on Tuesday announced the Government would be giving another $1.5 million in humanitarian assistance to help Venezuelan residents and those fleeing the country amid an economic collapse that's led to shortages in food, water, electricity and medicines.
About four million people are estimated to have emigrated from the country of 32 million so far. The United Nations says about seven million remaining need assistance.
"What is happening in Venezuela is a tragedy. Venezuela has gone from one of the most prosperous to one of the poorest countries in the region," Peters said.
"The economy has been run into the ground by politicians that have deprived people of their democratic and human rights. It is a serious failure of leadership."
About $1 million of the aid funding will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross for work on water and health systems, while the rest will go to the UN Refugee Agency. It comes after a $500,000 announcement earlier this year.
Peters also reiterated a call for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to "respect the will of the people and hold fair and free elections", in reference to concerns about the integrity of the 2018 polls that gave Maduro a second term.
But Peters again avoided joining Western allies, including the United States, Britain and Australia, in recognising Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
Amid protests, Guaido in January declared a rival presidency two weeks after Maduro was sworn in, although Maduro still holds on to power.
The National Party has said that by refusing to support Guaido, New Zealand is endorsing Maduro by default.
Peters has defended the Government's position, saying it was not New Zealand policy to make statements recognising governments and that it was up to Venezuelans to decide who their government was in a fair election.
Recent polling in Venezuela has shown that while public support for Guaido still remains high, it has declined since February.
Maduro took office in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez.