Justice Minister Judith Collins says Greens co-leader Metiria Turei is a "sanctimonious hypocrite" for championing the poor while dressing in expensive designer clothes.

The blast yesterday by Ms Collins once more dragged New Zealand designer Adrienne Winkelmann into the political crossfire, with one of her jackets - worn by Mrs Turei - being labelled "ugly" for a second time by the confrontational minister.

Ms Collins made her remarks while defending Cabinet colleague Anne Tolley against Mrs Turei's accusation of racism.

That jibe was prompted by Ms Tolley saying she was "insulted to be lectured on how out of touch I am with average New Zealanders by a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle, and comes to the House dressed in $2000 designer jackets".


Mrs Turei said other MPs spoke about poverty but weren't attacked for it.

Attacks on Mrs Turei's choice of clothing began almost a year ago when Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson hit out at her for lecturing National on social justice "resplendent in her Adrienne Winkelmann jackets".

Ms Collins stepped up the attack a couple of months later, tweeting that one of Mrs Turei's speeches in Parliament was "vile, wrong and ugly. Just like her jacket today."

Mrs Turei confirmed she was wearing an Adrienne Winkelmann jacket that day.

Yesterday, Ms Collins was sticking by her assessment that it was "really ugly".

However, she said the stoush was not about clothes.

"It's a response to Metiria calling Anne Tolley a racist because she commented on a jacket. Anne is not a racist and Metiria cries racist every time someone points out her sanctimonious hypocrisy."

Mrs Turei was being "a sensitive little sausage", and if she was so concerned about poverty, "she could always sell a jacket and feed a child for a year".

Ms Winkelmann did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, but while Ms Collins said she hadn't bought any of the designer's clothes in a decade, her Cabinet colleague Hekia Parata was wearing a jacket from Adrienne Winkelmann's current collection at Ratana last week.

The designer is also a favourite of former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Bronagh Key, the Prime Minister's wife, has also been seen wearing one of her jackets.

Fashion figure Colin Mathura-Jeffree said a politician's clothes were important as a "first line of communication".

"The way you dress represents who you are and in an instant we recognise and judge the person accordingly. Dress to represent your people or at least wear clothes that fit," he said.

Blogger Morgan Godfery said criticism of Mrs Turei's clothing was "loaded with social, political and racial assumptions".

"The unspoken context is that Metiria, a Maori woman who lives well and dresses better, is acting out of turn and out of step with her community."

Mrs Turei - who lives in a castle-style house outside Dunedin that cost her $137,000 last year - said that while Ms Tolley and Ms Collins were "busy talking about my clothes, I am talking about children and families in poverty".

"It just proves that National does not prioritise the issues that are most important."