Helen Clark, one of the front runners to be the next United Nations Secretary-General, has been moved by a young Afghan man's account of the difference she made to his life.

Political studies graduate Zakaria Hazaranejad, 29, was one of the 133 refugees from the Tampa that New Zealand, under Ms Clark's leadership, opened its doors to in 2001.

Zakaria Hazaranejad: Clark's courage changed my life

He has backed her bid for the top job at the UN, using his story as an example of why she'd be the ideal candidate.


"It is the story of a refugee, making a hard and dangerous journey that put my life at risk and then being rescued by a leader who showed courage and compassion."

He said many of those she'd let through the doors were now doctors, civil engineers, lawyers, police officers, nurses and architects.

"Professions none of us could ever have hoped to achieve in Afghanistan."

He said Ms Clark was brave and showed courage and compassion at a time when there was deep suspicion about Muslims.

"This makes me sure she is a person who has the right leadership qualities and the right sense of social justice and compassion to lead the UN."

Ms Clark tweeted in response.

"In 2001 as #NZ PM, I led a decision to accept #Afghanistan refugees, I am deeply touched by this story."

New Zealand's Ambassador to the European Union, David Taylor, said in a tweet Mr Hazaranejad's tale pointed out two key qualities that were important for the next leader of the United Nations.

"In a world struggling w/ #refugee & #conflict issues, this story points 2 qualities important 4 next #UNSG @Helen4SG."

Meanwhile a new poll has found more Australians are favouring New Zealand's candidate for the top job over one of their own.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the country's former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has not made his candidacy official, did not have the people's backing.

The Essential poll, released yesterday, has indicated that 45 per cent of the 1020 surveyed thought Ms Clark would be a better leader of the United Nations. Only 21 per cent backed Mr Rudd.

Thirty-four per cent were unsure who would make a better leader.

Mr Rudd had recently been reported saying the Eastern European candidate was the most likely to be chosen to replace Mr Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General.