Jacinda Ardern asked if she's seen as a 'soft touch' with refugees

Jacinda Ardern has been questioned about the reports Australian authorities have turned back four boats carrying asylum seekers looking to gain entry into New Zealand, with one reporter asking her if she was seen as a "soft touch" by Australian officials. 

The PM addressed reports out of Australian media today that four boats of asylum seekers have been intercepted heading to NZ. Source: 1 NEWS

Speaking to media at the ASEAN summit in the Philippines today one reporter asked the Prime Minister if Australia leaked the report to prove she was a soft touch on the issue of refugees.

"I can't answer that, we have been involved for a number of years as a country working alongside Australia in trying to stop people at the source from risking their lives and we will continue to do so," she responded.

Ms Ardern also re-iterated numerous times that New Zealand would prosecute anyone trying to smuggle asylum seekers into the country.

"My message will continue to be very clear that anyone who tries to put at risk vulnerable peoples lives should come under the full force of the law.

"It's unacceptable to have people manipulate those in vulnerable situations by acting as smugglers, they must be stopped and New Zealand is helping to do that," Ms Ardern said.

The acting PM weighed into the origin of reports four boats of refugees were turned back from heading to NZ shores. Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier acting PM Kelvin Davis  said Australia is "quite possibly" pushing back in the media against New Zealand's offers to take 150 refugees from their offshore detention centre at Manus Island.

"Quite possibly but we're not responsible for Australia and the decisions they make," Mr Davis said.

It was unclear whether Mr Davis was referring to the Australian Government revealing security information about asylum seeker boats they had intercepted.

The acting PM also evaded questions over whether New Zealand's offer to resettle Australia's asylum seekers had encouraged new crossings to Kiwi shores by people smugglers.

"Look the big concern is the people on those islands and that's really where our focus is at the moment," he said.

"It's not very easy crossing the Tasman Sea so I don't think we are an easy target."