The secretary of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says the government is wrong to say Fiji is making progress towards democracy in view of the derailment of the constitution process.
Peter Conway made the comment at a Wellington protest over the torture of Fiji prisoners caught on video and posted online.
The nine-minute video shows two tied-up men being beaten and sexually abused by what the regime calls Fijian security personnel.
Mr Conway says New Zealand's foreign minister's description of Fiji having taken a step backwards is lame.
"It is lame. I can appreciate for him it's a question of what do you do, how do you influence this military dictatorship. But it seems the softly, softly approach is not really working and for the government to put faith and money into a constitutional review process and really see that process trashed I think sends a very strong signal."
Peter Conway says the New Zealand government must now look at how it is going to offer greater support to those organisations working towards a return to genuine democracy in Fiji.