Key Points:

New Zealand First deputy leader Peter Brown has been labelled a racist after suggesting there are too many Asian immigrants in New Zealand.

Mr Brown yesterday expressed his concern after learning New Zealand's Asian population was expected to grow faster than any other.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand projected an increase of 3.4 per cent a year, taking the Asian population in New Zealand from 400,000 in 2006 to 790,000 out of a total population of 4.94 million by 2026.

Mr Brown said the "rapid rise" in the Asian population was driven mainly by immigration and both Labour and National were culpable.

"The matter is serious. If we continue this open door policy there is real danger we will be inundated with people who have no intention of integrating into our society. The greater the number, the greater the risk.

"They will form their own mini-societies to the detriment of integration and that will lead to division, friction and resentment."

Mr Brown said he was particularly concerned the Asian population threatened to eventually outnumber Maori.

However, the statistics suggest that Maori will still outnumber Asians by 30,000.

National and Labour were as one in condemning Mr Brown's views.

Government ministers pointed out that Mr Brown was himself an immigrant, from the United Kingdom.

Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter, speaking from Vietnam where he has been promoting New Zealand's education services, told NZPA that Asian New Zealanders were proving their worth.

Asian students were "disproportionately successful", while in crime statistics, Asian New Zealand were "disproportionately absent".

Mr Carter said he had had this debate with NZ First many times in the past, including when it played the immigration card three years ago before the last election campaign.

"I think he's absolutely being racist."

Mr Brown had come to New Zealand for a better life, just like every other migrant.

Chinese New Zealanders had been in this country since the gold rush days.

"He shouldn't be condemning people because of their race or culture," Mr Carter said.

National MP Pansy Wong said her party had a different view to NZ First about Asian immigration to New Zealand, and valued hard-working immigrants from "all cultures".

New Zealand was losing 79,000 people a year and immigrants by and large proved themselves extremely valuable in making up for that loss, Ms Wong said.

Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove told NZPA Mr Brown's comments were ironic, given that he was a "native born British chap".

He hoped Mr Brown did not "take his own advice" and return to the UK.

Mr Cosgrove said there was no discrimination in immigration policy in terms of ethnicity of migrants.

"We're sourcing skilled people from all over the world."

The greatest source of immigration was from the United Kingdom.

Alasdair Thompson, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, said Mr Brown's comments were "racial stereotyping of the worst sort".

"We need our newer migrants. We don't need Mr Brown's racism."

Kim Dunstan from Statistics New Zealand said the figures released made up one of 11 models produced by the Government authority. Mr Dunstan said the figures are a mid-point between both extremes.

He said the figures did not take into account immigration policy or instances of war, famine or epidemics.

``Naturally we are uncertain about the future but the figures are produced to give an indication to those that are planning for the future including health, education, transport and superannuation.