The Green Party is taking aim at NZ First and National, saying comments by their respective leaders, regarding the refugee status of Kurdish-Iranian author Behrouz Boochani, are "race-baiting".

Greens human rights spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman said New Zealanders deserve better and even accused NZ First leader Winston Peters of "dog-whistling".

This comes after National and NZ First raised questions over how Boochani was granted refugee status in New Zealand.

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"It's really disappointing and New Zealand deserves and will demand better this election," Ghahraman said.

But both Peters and National leader Judith Collins have hit back and rubbished the Green MP's comments.

"That's disgraceful actually when you resort to that sort of argument," Peters told reporters this afternoon when asked about the "race-baiting" comments.

"Race-baiting?" he asked, before continuing: "With the greatest respect to the Greens, I've been around a long-time longer than they have".

"Given my background, I think that's just an uncalled for, thoughtless insult – sad to say."

Collins challenged Ghahraman's comments as well.

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman speaking to media. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman speaking to media. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"The National Party will not be cowered into not asking legitimate questions about processes," she told the Herald.

This morning, she said she was seeking assurances from the Government this was no "queue jumping" to get Boochani to the front of the list.


But she stopped short of outright accusing the Government of meddling in the process to get him to the front of the queue.

Rather, she said a lot of questions needed to be answered.

"I'm asking to have reassurance from the public of New Zealand – I think that is a very important thing."

And, in a tweet last week, NZ First linked to a story about Boochani obtaining refugee status and said "This is why New Zealand First must provide the Minister of Immigration".

That was retweeted by Peters, who this afternoon stood by the comments.

"He [Boochani] came here on a one-month visa, did not honour it, was offered refugee status by the United States which begs the question: why did we end up [with him]?"


Ghahraman said she was "disappointed" in both Collins and Peters' comments.

In fact, she said Collins' and Peters' comments will leave minority communities feeling less safe.

She said Peters' tweet "revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of what the ministerial relationship is with our justice system" and was "dog-whistling" to a certain type of voter".

She did not say which type of voter, however.