Jacinda Ardern has hit back at National’s claims that political interference was involved in allowing refugee Behrouz Boochani into the country.
National's immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith today suggested Mr Boochani was only let into New Zealand because he had "political friends in New Zealand in the Green party and the Labour party".
"I deeply suspect there was interference from further up the ladder or influence because of Boochani's political connections," he told Radio NZ.
Jacinda Ardern this afternoon called the allegation “offensive”.
“I think the claims that have been made here are an insult to New Zealand’s immigration system and also to the integrity of parliamentarians.
“I won’t comment on the specifics of the case in question because of course politicians have no role to play in it.
“It’s a very important distinction we have to make and also under the law we’re not permitted to even speak of someone in this particular set of circumstances’ potential immigration status,” the Prime Minister said.
She said New Zealand’s immigration system is “robust” and objected to the allegation, calling it “wrong”.
Mr Boochani travelled to New Zealand in November, ending a marathon stay in Australia's offshore detention regime by accepting an invitation for a speaking engagement in Christchurch.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) granted the refugee a one-month visitor visa.
After arriving, Mr Boochani then reportedly applied for asylum and is understood to still be in New Zealand awaiting a decision on that application.
New Zealand law prohibits INZ or government ministers from speaking about asylum bids, or even whether an application exists.
Mr Smith pointed to an interview last year when Mr Boochani pledged not to return to Papua New Guinea as evidence Mr Boochani falsified his original visa application.
"If (INZ) do their job properly his (asylum) application would fail on the grounds that he filled out a visa incorrectly when he came," he said.
"On the face of it, he should not have been allowed in."
Human rights organisations lauded Mr Boochani's departure from Papua New Guinea back in November.
The 36-year-old conducted a number of speaking engagements, including the sold-out Word Christchurch event which sponsored his trip, in New Zealand prior to the expiry of his visitor visa.
His visit was supported by Amnesty International, which has not responded to requests for comment.
Mr Boochani told AAP last year he experienced "exactly the opposite of what I experienced on Manus Island", where he was incarcerated for four years after attempting to seek asylum in Australia.
"In Manus I experienced violence, cruelty, humiliation," he said.
"In New Zealand I'm welcomed by people. I've experienced kindness.
"Many people have stopped in the the streets and they they to show their kindness."
AAP also contributed to this story.