Three political parties have condemned the decision to ban the Falun Gong from Wellington's Chinese New Year parade on Sunday.
Scoop: The spiritual movement is banned in China and Chinese foreign embassies use aggressive diplomacy against it in other countries.
Radio New Zealand reported yesterday it would not be allowed to take part in the festivities for the Year of the Rat, which began on Thursday in New Zealand and other countries and will last for two weeks.
Wellington City Council sponsors the parade and Mayor Kerry Prendergast told TV One News "there shouldn't be a political component to the events that we sponsor".
Falun Gong, which was allowed to take part in the Christmas parade, was banned from last year's Chinese New Year festivities but gatecrashed the event.
The Green Party said the decision was deplorable.
"We shouldn't be bending to pressure from the Chinese Embassy, which represents a government that severely persecutes this spiritual movement," said MP Keith Locke.
"When political expediency is put ahead of freedom of expression, a vital aspect of our society is being eroded."
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she was very concerned.
"Is it a directive on high from the Chinese Government, or is it our own government which is restricting the rights of this community?" she asked.
"New Zealanders have the right to know why discrimination is being practised in this country when it is not part of the ethos of Aotearoa."
United Future leader Peter Dunne said Falun Gong had been banned from events in other cities and he believed councils were scared of upsetting the Chinese Government while free trade talks with New Zealand entered their final stage.Mr Dunne said it was "shocking" that councils and other bodies were too timid to allow people to freely express their views
Falun Gong decision eroding democratic values
Falun Gong should be able to Celebrate