Shane Jones' comments on Indian students both 'loose' and 'wrong', Ardern says

The Prime Minister today said NZ First MP Shane Jones was "loose with his language" and "wrong" about his comments on Indian students. 

When asked if she had spoken to Mr Jones about the comments, Jacinda Ardern said she intended to. 

Mr Jones was interviewed by MediaWorks over the weekend around immigration. 

"We should debate it and there should be a mandate, rather than opening up the options, unfettered, and everyone comes here from New Delhi," he said. 

When questioned on the "New Delhi" comment, Mr Jones said, "I think that the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions, I think it’s a backdoor to citizenship".

Today, Ms Ardern said she would tell Mr Jones that, "I totally disagree with him". 

"On many occasions I have witnessed Minister Jones be both loose with his language and also be wrong. On this occasion he was both. 

"I also have to acknowledge that he is not a member of my party so it's obviously the case from time to time we will disagree. 

"And he needs to be answerable for his own opinions in that regard. They are not the opinion of the Government."

"I will also be asking him to reconsider the way he talks about these issues in the future because I do not believe it is good for New Zealand. 

National Party Simon Bridges called on Ms Ardern to "reprimand her Minister for these comments, they are wrong and hurtful to Indian New Zealanders". 

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker visited India last week to "strengthen ties " between the two countries. 

"India is a priority relationship for New Zealand. We share common democratic traditions, growing two-way trade, extensive people-to-people links, and a common strategic interest in the Indo-Pacific region," Mr Peters said.

"New Zealand has high aspirations for the relationship."

Ms Ardern said she understood Mr Jones' comments did not impact the visit or the relationship.

"It's not just about the effect on the relationship, it's about the effect on the community here, and I take that very seriously."

It October last year , Mr Jones told Radio New Zealand - "To the activists from the Indian community, tame down your rhetoric, you have no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home – catch the next flight home".

His comments followed a change in approach by immigration officials to partnership visas, which meant Indians in particular were experiencing a much harder time bringing their spouses to New Zealand.