New Zealand's chances of gaining a seat on the UN Security Council have been damaged by "gratuitous insults" to Finland and Hungary handed out by Government ministers, Labour says.
Prime Minister John Key made disparaging remarks about Hungary's troops in Afghanistan - saying they didn't go out on patrols at night - and senior minister Gerry Brownlee mocked Finland's achievements in parliament.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, Phil Goff, says their remarks engendered enormous resentment.
"Mr Key's comments were described by Hungary's ambassador to Kabul as `ill-advised, ill-informed and malicious'," he said on Thursday.
"These kind of offensive comments made about any country are unnecessary and long remembered."
New Zealand is seeking one of the rotating non-permanent seats on the Security Council.
"It puts us at the heart of international decision-making, it allows us to enhance our reputation and gives us the ability to influence international affairs for years to come," Mr Goff said.
"It hardly helps to have the prime minister and Gerry Brownlee dishing out gratuitous insults to other countries... we should instead be persuading those European countries of the strength of our friendship and our common values."