|WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 11: Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key speaks to the media with Maori party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples at Parliament on December 11, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. The Maori party have signed a confidence And supply agreement with the National party to help form the next New Zealand government. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
|WAITANGI, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 05: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (C) is welcomed by Maori Party Co-Leader Pita Sharples with a hongi (traditional Maori greeting) outside TeTii Marae February 5, 2011 in Waitangi, New Zealand. Waitangi Day is the national day of New Zealand, which is a public holiday held on February 6 each year to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty is New Zealand's founding document, signed on February 6, 1840. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
Maori Affairs minister, Pita Sharples, said Christchurch residents who are living in cars should squat in safe red-zoned properties to get through the winter.
But Mr Key says it's wrong to suggest anyone should stay in an abandoned home, because it is illegal and potentially dangerous.
Mr Key says if people cannot find accommodation, they should make contact with one of the Government's social welfare agencies.
But Mr Sharples is standing by his belief that homeless people should squat in safe, red-zoned properties in Christchurch if necessary.
But the Maori Party co-leader says he shouldn't have made the comments while he was on a ministerial visit.
Dr Sharples says people living in cars risk dying in the cold, and the housing shortage is a crisis.
He says his remarks were irresponsible as a minister, but as the Maori Party co-leader he meant every word.
Dr Sharples says he's seeking funding to get more help for homeless people, as contracts for workers in his ministry's whanau support programme have not yet been renewed.
Acknowledgements: © 2012, Radio New Zealand