A Australian authorities ministry says individuals smugglers had been now marketing New Zealand as a back doorway to Australia, immediately after Malaysian police intercepted a ship taking Sri Lankan asylumseekers.
However, Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul, speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, voiced doubts that the ship could have made it to New Zealand.
Three Indonesians and four Malaysians, who were on a fishing boat onboard the rusty tanker, which was believed to have been used to ferry the immigrants to the tanker, were also arrested.
Australian border protection agency head Steven Osborne said the whole Indo-Pacific region must take responsibility for preventing people smuggling.
He said the group included 98 men, 24 women, four boys and five girls.
Peter Dutton's comments come after a rusting boat was intercepted by Malaysian authorities.
"I think, on the face of it, there's no possibility that it could be thinking of attempting to go to New Zealand", he said. "We thank the Malaysian authorities for their efforts", Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
However experts have played down the potential for a mass exodus via the high seas, as stormy weather over upcoming months makes boat trips far more risky.
'And we know we've got at least 14,000 people just in Indonesia ready to get on boats tomorrow, and we've got huge issues in Shri Lanka, in Vietnam, obviously Malaysia as well.
"It has a similar welfare system, similar health, education offerings, housing, etc - it is marketed in the same way as Australia is as a positive destination".
Ms Ardern wouldn't disclose whether she has been briefed on if a boat could reach New Zealand, but warns it would be a "dangerous venture".
'With these arrests, the Royal Malaysia Police has successfully foiled a large and cunning human smuggling syndicate, ' he said.
A total of 127 Sri Lankans will be charged for entering Malaysia illegally while nine Malaysians, four Indonesians and four Sri Lankans will be investigated for people smuggling, he added.