The Labour Party has shot back at Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, saying she has undermined her position by criticising the party's stance on foreign home ownership.
Labour's shadow Attorney General David Parker said this afternoon that Dame Susan had failed to come up with alternative evidence when she accused Labour of released "half-baked" data on sales of Auckland homes to Chinese buyers.
"The data used by [Labour's housing spokesman] Phil Twyford was carefully checked by him, and by the New Zealand Herald, which published it," he said.
"The data used is the best available and the Herald story makes that clear. Ms Devoy does not present any alternative data."
Mr Parker also said Dame Susan's comments "undermined her role" at the Human Rights Commission.
"She should re-read the Human Rights Act because there is nothing in the Act that says contentious issues ought not to be discussed."
He defended Labour's argument that Chinese buyers were having a significant influence on Auckland's overheated housing market.
"There is nothing racist in what has been said. Labour's policy is that if you have the right to live here you have the right to buy here, whatever your ethnicity.
"I am surprised Ms Devoy has not commented that it is outrageous that the Herald article showed that Maori and Pasifika are grossly under represented as house buyers, house sellers and agents.
"Surely this level of social exclusion is bad for race relations."
Earlier today, Dame Susan said Chinese New Zealanders deserve better than being blamed for Auckland's high house prices.
Ms Devoy accused the Labour Party of dumbing down complex economic problems by singling out Chinese buyers as a major cause of the overheated housing market.
"Dumbing down complex economic woes and blaming them on an ethnic community whose members are already feeling under pressure is neither new nor unique but it's always disappointing," Dame Susan said.
Her comments came after Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford released leaked real estate data to the Weekend Herald which showed people of Chinese descent accounted for 39.5 per cent of the almost 4000 Auckland transactions between February and April.
Census data showed ethnic Chinese who are New Zealand residents or citizens accounted for 9 per cent of Auckland's population.
In a statement, Dame Susan said economists had expressed concerns about the "half-baked" data, and if Auckland's inflationary market was going to be addressed then expert analysis and evidence was needed.
"Chinese New Zealanders deserve better than this and so does anyone keen on actually solving this issue," she said.
"When the global oil crisis hit New Zealand in the seventies, Pacific people -- whether they were citizens or not -- were wrongly blamed by many for the economic woes we faced."
Dame Susan pointed to Chinese migrants' deep roots in this country, saying she recently travelled with a group of Chinese New Zealanders to the Far North to mark the death of 499 miners whose ship sunk more than a century ago, and were buried at Matihetihe Marae.
"Like myself, Phil Twyford is the child of migrants. His family arrived in the sixties, my father celebrated his first birthday on board a ship en route from Ireland. We are both New Zealanders. On that bus trip to Hokianga with me were Chinese Kiwis whose families arrived in the 1800s, they represent generations of Kiwis who have helped build our economy and country.
"These New Zealanders and their families deserve better than to be singled out because they have a Chinese sounding surname.
"New Zealand is fast becoming one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth. We are also one of the most peaceful. This is a legacy we are all responsible for if we are to leave it behind us for future generations."
Meanwhile, the Green Party distanced itself from Labour's comments by saying that rampant property investment, not ethnicity, was driving demand for Auckland houses.
Co-leader Metiria Turei agreed with Labour's policy that non-resident foreign buyers should be blocked from the New Zealand housing market.
"But if parties are serious about dampening the demand for Auckland property, they need to deal to tax incentives that are encouraging locals to invest in property too," she said.