The refugee quota is shaping up to be a contentious issue between Labour and its Government coalition partner NZ First after conflicting comments from NZ First leader Winston Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on whether it will be raised.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, filling in for Ardern on her morning media slots today, said the policy still needed to be worked through the coalition agreement.

"It's clearly the intention that we campaigned on as a Labour Party to move to 1500 refugees. We've got to work that through the coalition arrangement we've got, and we do have to have a proper plan in place," he told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.

"That remains the intention of the [Immigration] Minister Iain Lees-Galloway to go to 1500."


Peters, who as Foreign Affairs Minister is in Nauru for the Pacific Islands Forum, told reporters yesterday NZ First had never made a commitment to double the refugee quota.

The quota was raised by the previous National government from 750 a year to 1000 and Labour campaigned before the election on increasing that further to 1500 a year in its first term of government.

Peters said his party had agreed to increase the quota to 1000 but had made no announcement to double it.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

When Ardern was asked about Peters' comments at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Monday she appeared to be unaware of his position.

"I would want to check the context of all of those questions but, as I've said, that commitment still remains.

"It hasn't come through Cabinet, that's an accurate representation, but that is still a commitment that we have," she said.


Peters arrived in Nauru for the three-day forum. Ardern will fly there tomorrow morning for the day to attend the leaders' retreat.