The Government says it knows nothing about a so-called secret deal that would let Japan to kill more whales in the North Pacific, in exchange for reducing its whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Reports in Australian media say New Zealand is involved in the proposal, which is being worked on by the drafting committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
New Zealand and Australia are represented on the committee, along with Japan, the United States, Sweden and Brazil.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully, speaking from Papua New Guinea, told Checkpoint he has not seen the proposal, which is only one of the discussions New Zealand is involved in.
Sydney Morning Herald reporter Andrew Darby, who obtained leaked papers from the committee, has said that the proposal indicates that anti-whaling nations are making concessions to Japan.
IWC 'close to collapse'
A spokesperson for Japanese whalers, Glenn Inwood of the Institute of Cetacean Research, says the IWC has been close to collapse for years and is moving towards a more compromising position in order to survive.
Mr Inwood says the proposal should be seen as the lesser of two evils.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner Carley Thomas says it has the potential to legitimise bogus scientific research, which would threaten an endangered whale population around the coast of Japan.
Judging by what's on the table at the moment, she says, it doesn't look like the Japanese are negotiating in good faith.