Foreign Minister Winston Peters hasn't raised concerns about the deportation of New Zealanders from Australia at a meeting with his transtasman counterpart, despite calling the situation "indefensible" after the previous time they got together.

But the two countries have seen eye-to-eye on a rebuke of China over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

After talks with Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, in Auckland on Friday, Peters told reporters there hadn't been time to raise the skyrocketing numbers of Kiwis being deported across the ditch since Australia introduced tougher laws in 2014.

"It wasn't raised this time either, because we had a whole lot of things to discuss," he said.


But the Government had not given up pressing Australia on the problem, and particularly New Zealand citizens who had lived in Australia most of their lives being sent over, Peters said.

"Of course we are going to keep on focusing on getting a far better understanding and what we believe is a far fairer legal outcome, particularly when people arrived in Australia when they were 3, 4, 5, 6 years, 7 years of age."

The deportation concerns cropped up when Payne and Peters met earlier this year and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in February described the deportation regime as "corrosive" to the transtasman relationship when she held talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The deportation issue also cropped up when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison met this year. Photo / File
The deportation issue also cropped up when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison met this year. Photo / File

Payne said her Government had no plans to budge on the issue, nor on the other rights of Kiwis in Australia.

Meanwhile, both Payne and Peters faced questions about why their countries had joined 20 others in signing a letter to the UN Human Rights Council calling for Beijing to end its mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

"Because we believe in human rights, we believe in freedom and we believe in the liberty of personal beliefs and the right to hold them," Peters said.

United Nations experts believe at least a million of the Uyghur minority group are being held in "re-education" centres in the western region.

China's Government has described them as training facilities and says it's trying to stamp out "extremism".


Reuters reports the letter, signed mainly by European nations and dated July 8, was not read out and was not put up as a resolution, because of fear of backlash from China.

New Zealand has made no formal announcement about the letter.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she raised human rights with China's President, Xi Jinping, when she made her first visit to Beijing earlier this year.

That followed calls for her to raise the plight of the Uyghurs during the visit, particularly after the March 15 attack on Christchurch's Muslim community.

It also followed a period of speculation that tension between New Zealand and China had risen after the GCSB's decision to block hardware from Chinese tech giant Huawei being used in telecommunication company Spark's nationwide 5G rollout.

Peters and Payne on Friday said they also discussed regional security and faced questions about the human rights concerns in West Papua. Peters said he had raised the issue when he met with Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi earlier in the day.

And Payne turned to the Cricket World Cup to demonstrate the strength of Antipodean camaraderie.

"I think it's a good test of how close Australia and New Zealand are if unprovoked I can walk into a conference in Auckland and compliment New Zealand reaching the finals of the World Cup in the face of my own anguish on that matter," she said.

Payne later added she would be taking a Black Caps shirt home and rooting for New Zealand in Sunday's final.

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Australia last year told politicians across the ditch that Kiwis were disproportionately affected by the deportation regime because of a crossover with changes to the rights of New Zealanders in Australia introduced in 2001.