Jacinda Ardern says Hamish Walker's press release about returning Kiwis heading to isolation facilities was "inappropriate".
It had been announced by the Government that it was looking to Queenstown and Dunedin as potential destinations for managed isolation facilities to hold returnees until it's deemed they don't have Covid-19.
In response, the National MP for Clutha Southland sent out a press release claiming 11,000 people from high-risk countries, specifically India, Korea and Pakistan, could be coming to town. Mr Walker has since been accused of racism, but is standing by his comments.
Dunedin's Mayor Aaron Hawkins told RNZ Mr Walker's comments were a "dog whistle", while the minister in charge of border controls, Megan Woods, has called his comments disgraceful, scaremongering and racist.
Speaking with media today Jacinda Ardern said she "certainly thought [Mr Walker's comments were] inappropriate".
"We need to make sure that we are welcoming the return of our permanent residents and our Kiwi citizens.
"And actually, the response we’ve had from a number of those centres that have been hosting is that they see this is a return of their people and their community, and we should treat it as such.
Mr Walker is standing by his comments, and claims that "being labelled a racist is Labour's default tactic."