Protesters at Parliament have called on the government to step up and more forcefully oppose Australia's use of offshore detention camps.
They said the government's indifference was inexcusable.
About 100 people were at the event protesting against the camps where asylum seekers and New Zealanders facing deportation are held.
Organiser Emma Cullen, from Peace Action Wellington, said she wanted the government to put some real pressure on Australia.
"People coming seeking refuge, fleeing from persecution shouldn't be put in detention centres.
"New Zealanders in Australia shouldn't be put in their detention centres."
Labour MP Kelvin Davis said Australia used offshore detention camps so they could be hidden from the public.
He said he was ashamed by the lack of opposition from the government.
"If you're silent in the face of tyranny then you're on the side of the tyrant, and the New Zealand government's silence in the face of what's going on in the offshore detention centres shows we're on the side of the tyrant - and that being the Australian government."
Green MP Denise Roche said she was appalled at what Australia was doing.
"It's an inhumane approach to what is actually a dire human rights situation - people are seeking asylum and they are being treated appallingly and [being] abused while they're seeking asylum.
"They're not illegal - it is a basic human right to seek asylum."
One of the demonstrators, Sue Ryan, is a secondary school principal on Kiribati.
She said for her the problem was not political.
"I feel very concerned about the children of those refugees - my prime concern is their education, that they're growing up without any."
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the government had expressed its concerns to Australia about New Zealanders being held in detention.
"Australia makes their own rules, we can't make their policy, so we need to work by a process of influence."
Mr English said New Zealanders would not want the Australian government dictating policy to them.
"So the process of dealing with people returning here from detention is now much better, as a result of intensive work with the Australian government where they've been responsive to our needs, while at the same time accepting we don't always agree with their policies," he said.
Earlier this month the Australian government announced it would close its Manus Island detention camp - several others remain.