Auckland's Pacific community will meet to discuss same-sex marriage after a South Auckland MP spoke out against it.
Labour's Mangere MP Su'u William Sio last week criticised the Marriage Equity Bill, citing widespread opposition within his electorate, which has the highest population of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.
Sio said some ministers in Pacific churches were preaching against the bill, which he said could cost Labour votes.
The Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel has organised a series of meetings aimed at giving community leaders and the public a chance to engage "respectfully and sensitively" on views surrounding the bill.
Panel chairman Reverend Uesifili Unasa said the bill was not an "attack on the institution of marriage or the traditional values of Pacific people".
"Rather, it is advocating for the fundamental right and choice of every New Zealander in a loving and honourable relationship to formally and legally marry," he said.
"The bill is an important step in putting right a wrong which over many years has deeply hurt, marginalised and treated many New Zealanders, including some in the Pacific community, as second class citizens.
"We believe, quite simply, such laws that discriminate or treat people unfairly have no place in New Zealand and must be challenged."
Unasa labelled Sio's comments "unfortunate" and said they had caused "misunderstanding and stirred fear within our churches and communities".
The first meeting will be held on Monday at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Herne Bay at 7pm.
The bill's sponsor, Labour Mp Louisa wall, will speak at the meeting along with New Zealand First Party MP Leaufaamulia Asenati Lole-Taylor and Labour Mp Charles Chauvel.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you wear a lifejacket when you are on the water - no matter what vessel you are in?