National leader Simon Bridges says two Canadian far-right writers should be able to come to New Zealand and speak, even if people disagree with their views.
Bridges was commenting today on a decision by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to ban controversial pair Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from using Auckland Council-owned venues for their New Zealand tour.
The pair are known for their far-right views on topics ranging from feminism and immigration to Islam.
Their countrywide tour has since been cancelled.
Bridges told TVNZ's Breakfast show today he strongly disagreed with the pair's views but freedom of speech was important.
"I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it's a dangerous thing to say 'because we don't like what you're saying we won't let you in'.
"I can see how [Goff] made his decision but I wouldn't have banned them from coming to New Zealand. We should allow people we strongly disagree with to come. We're a mature, liberal democracy."
Southern has posted a string of tweets since Goff made a decision to prevent the pair from using council-owned venues.
"Hey friends in New Zealand ~ looks like you've got a free speech issue there! Can't wait to address it with @StefanMolyneux", she tweeted.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said at the weekend that she had received death threats after she supported Goff's decision on social media.
"Got death threats towards me and my kids from supporters of those two who Goff refused to hire a venue to. My skin has thickened but have blocked for decency. Keyboard warriors," Davidson tweeted on Saturday evening.
Earlier, Davidson had shared on Facebook a media post about Goff's decision to deny access to Southern Molyneux,
"Good to use our freedom of speech to say your racist bigoted views aren't going to be catered for here. Thanks Phil. These two can get out."
Her posts ignited a strong debate about free speech.
Davidson later wrote: "I hope it doesn't upset too many people that I am not wasting my time reading the tears on my page from people who are upset at a Māori woman political leader from using my platform to say I abhor the vile crap that these people are espousing and will stand up against them at every opportunity."
Goff tweeted on Friday that venues shouldn't be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions.
"Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues."
Southern and Molyneux had been due to speak next month at the Auckland council-owned Bruce Mason centre on Auckland's North Shore.
Southern was banned from entering the UK earlier this year for her part "in the distribution of racist material in Luton", according to the BBC.
Pressure had been mounting on Immigration NZ to deny the pair entry with members of New Zealand's Muslim community and the Auckland Peace Action among those expressing concern.