New Zealand First delegates have voted to support the party introducing a bill that would make migrants and refugees "respect New Zealand values".

It was a hotly-debated motion this morning at the party's annual convention in Tauranga, with one delegate saying there should be a citizenship test because "they got to learn how to be disciplined in our country ways".

"I'm afraid we're getting some certain types creeping in, of various nationalities, or various ideas, that are not actually kosher with New Zealand's way of life."

Another delegate said he supported the bill. While New Zealand welcomed immigrants who wanted to help build New Zealand, "We won't want people here and then running off to create trouble".


"What we want is a country where everybody is working together. We don't want groups coming over here and trying to impose their ideas on us. We have our way, we have our culture and we have our customs, and that needs to be respected.

"We will not put up with nonsense like what has happened overseas, people coming in and creating a lot of trouble."

New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell read the preamble of the Respecting New Zealand Values Bill.

"New Zealand is a tolerant society. Our tolerance means that if an individual wants to immigrate to New Zealand, they must accept, respect and adhere to the tolerance our society expects,"it says.

"Immigrants must agree to respect New Zealand's values and to live a life that demonstrates that they respect New Zealand values."

The bill included respect for gender equality, religious freedom and New Zealand law.

Mitchell said the bill essentially meant refugees and migrants had to sign up to New Zealand values or be "sent home".

"We have got no problem with other cultures or other religions being here but when those intolerant people come here, that's when we should be showing our intolerance and asking them to go back to where they come from."


Mitchell told the Herald that the intention of the bill, which will be discussed by the party's caucus, was to ensure that migrants and refugees know that when they come to New Zealand they are signing up to New Zealand values.

"Those values are largely based on egalitarian thought and Christian views, not that you have to be a Christian or a Catholic to enjoy that.

"We've just got to ensure that everybody who comes to this country is tolerant of the way New Zealand behaves and if they're not tolerant of that or are bigots, racists or xenophobic in any way then they can go back to where they've come from."

He said the bill was in line with Canada's values bill and a sensible approach.

"I know the world's gone politically correct-mad so anything that you bring up where you talk about somebody's rights to have a view against another person, we all get up in arms."

He denied that some of the views expressed this morning might border on bigoted or xenophobic.

"Ensuring that people who come to New Zealand understand the value of everybody being treated fairly and equally is exactly what this bill is about."

Internal Affairs Minister and fellow New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin said she was the person who could take away someone's citizenship.

"You can do it under certain circumstances, but you cannot make them countryless or stateless."

She said the bill sounded great on paper but it was trying to fix something that was already being managed under other legislation.

She suggested a citizenship test might be a better option.

"But I think the Bill that Clayton read out might be covered in a whole lot of other places."

The vote on the motion was close and a show of hands was required before it was passed.

In other business, party president Brent Catchpole was beaten for the position by Tauranga businessman Lester Gray.

Catchpole, who was a list MP for NZ First from 2002 to 2005, had been president since 2015.

He said today he would continue to support the party.

Gray stood in the Bay of Plenty electorate for New Zealand First in the 2017 election as number 27 on the party list.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman says, "The Green Party are proud to welcome new New Zealanders to Aotearoa and believes everyone can contribute meaningfully to our society.

"It's very important that debate about migration isn't used to bring out racist sentiments that can cause real harm to people. Our values are shared with people of different cultures and background and that is our strength, this includes feminism, environmentalism, and open democracy.

"We understand that the proposed Bill was hotly contested at New Zealand First's conference and that New Zealand First MP and Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin has some concerns with it.

"The Greens don't think this kind of thing is a priority for Parliament to consider but we will assess the bill if and when it comes through the Parliament."

Today is the second day of the conference, which is also celebrating New Zealand First's 25th anniversary.

Leader Winston Peters will give his keynote address this afternoon.