The melee between Green MP Russel Norman and Chinese officials at Parliament yesterday over his pro-Tibet protest may lead to a review of arrangements for protesting MPs against visiting dignitaries.

The freedom of MPs to be anywhere at Parliament allows them to get much closer than normal protesters, but foreign security are not likely to recognise New Zealand MPs or distinguish them from ordinary hostile protesters.

The scuffle occurred on day two of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping's three-day trade-focused visit to Auckland and Wellington. Today he will open the Confucius Institute at Victoria University.

Dr Norman said Prime Minister John Key needed to make a very clear statement about New Zealand's values.

"It's ultimately John Key's fault," Dr Norman said on RNZ's Checkpoint.

Mr Key said he was very disappointed but wouldn't comment on who was at fault until he knew more.

"It has otherwise been an extremely positive visit," he said.

"We fully believe in the freedom of speech and freedom of rights in this country. I'd hate to see that overshadow what has been a growing and developing relationship."

Mr Xi was to have met Labour leader Phil Goff at Parliament after being hosted to lunch by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English but it was moved to Mr Xi's hotel because of the incident.

Mr Goff said he had raised with him that "a very important cultural and political tradition in New Zealand is the tradition of peaceful protest".

"He said he understood that was part of our tradition and he had come to New Zealand prepared for that."

Dr Norman's protest was in contrast to that of the late former co-leader of the Greens, Rod Donald, in 2005 against Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress.

Mr Donald's was a silent protest and he sought advice from the Speaker at the time about where to stand - some distance from his target.

New Zealand security and police stood with Mr Donald and refused to let Chinese security stand in front of him and the Tibetan flag he was holding.

Dr Norman was jostled as he held the flag aloft and moved chanting towards Mr Xi, arriving at Parliament's Beehive entrance.

He was a metre or two from him.

One of at least two dozen officials travelling with Mr Xi covered the flag with his umbrella.

Seconds later someone grabbed the flag from him and dropped it.

Dr Norman stopped chanting "Freedom for the people of Tibet!" and started yelling "Give me my flag back" and "Don't bring your undemocratic practices to our country".

Speaker Lockwood Smith greeted Mr Xi and took him to his lounge. About 10 minutes later Dr Norman and Greens staffer Kevin List made towards the Speaker's flat with the flag looking as if they were going to position themselves outside the flat waiting for Mr Xi to come out.

A minute or two later the Greens returned to their offices.

Dr Norman laid a complaint with Wellington police yesterday afternoon.

Dr Smith would not comment on the grounds that it could be part of a police investigation.

By last night the police had not requested parliamentary security footage that captured the events.

An Internal Affairs official could be heard on the phone asking the person who changed the arrival to the Beehive if they were aware that Dr Norman could go anywhere in Parliament.