Migrants and refugees will have to respect New Zealand values or be shipped back to "where they came from" under a bill to be discussed by the New Zealand First caucus.

The Respecting New Zealand Values Bill, drawn up by NZ First's Clayton Mitchell on behalf of the party's Tauranga members, was put to the vote by delegates at NZ First's annual convention in the city this morning.

The idea already has the backing of leader Winston Peters.

He wasn't at the conference when it was being debated but told reporters later if people coming to New Zealand "didn't want to salute this country's law", they shouldn't be here.


"If you're coming to this country as a refugee, surely you respect the country you've come to. In the case of some refugees, if you've gone past 42 other countries that have your religion for one that does not, why wouldn't you actually have some respect for the new country you've come to and their religions," Peters said.

It was a hotly debated motion, with one delegate saying New Zealand should have 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," said Roger Melville of Wairarapa.

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".

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

Mitchell read the preamble of the Respecting New Zealand Values Bill, which said "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".


Mitchell told the Herald that the intention of the bill, which will be discussed by the party's caucus now that it had been passed by delegates, was to ensure that migrants and refugees knew that when they came to New Zealand they were 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."

Internal Affairs Minister and fellow New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin 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.

The Green Party's immigration spokeswoman, Golriz Ghahraman, said it was important that debate about migration wasn't used to bring out racist sentiment that could cause real harm to people.


"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," she said.

Act is likely to support such a bill, with leader David Seymour saying it came straight from his party's website.

"ACT's immigration policy requires all new citizens to explicitly sign up to New Zealand's values of free speech, free assembly, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, property rights and the rule of law," he said.