Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said New Zealand was not in a position to judge the 400 visas issued each year for women to enter the country for an arranged marriage.

He was responding to a question at the National Party conference in Christchurch from a delegate concerned at domestic violence cases within arranged marriages going through the Manukau Court.

"When we are talking about family violence, I am not sure that we as a country can actually hold our hands up and say 'we are good enough to judge those cultures," Mr Woodhouse said.

"When we clean up our own act, when we let every New Zealander know that it's not okay, then maybe we will be able to look at a separate group and then make a difference judgment, but I don't think we are position at the moment."


Most of the 400 visas are for women from India to marry Indian men in New Zealand. They are usually temporary visas for a year, when they can apply for permanent residence.

Mr Woodhouse said there were a number of programmes run through the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Justice, Shakti and other NGOs to support women in violent relationships.

Temporary visas holders who were fearful of leaving their partners for fear of being deported or not having a visa renewed need not be fearful he said.

"We have policies that support that and I think that is really important we try and get through to migrant communities."

"Culturally arranged marriages are a normal part of many of the cultures that are deeply embedded in New Zealand culture now and we issue about 400 visas a year.

"When we do that we go to great lengths to establish that they are of appropriate age, that there is no coercion so, that there is no dowry - which is illegal in New Zealand.