One New Zealand politician believes child abuse is such a big problem in the country that “problem parents” should be paid not to reproduce.

Mayor Michael Laws says there would be “less dead children and less social problems” if known criminals were paid to be voluntarily sterilized.

"There is a group within our society who give their children no hope nor opportunity from the moment that they are born,” Laws wrote on the website of a New Zealand radio station where he is a talk DJ.

"That these ‘parents’ are known to authorities ... and yet the authorities can only intervene after children have been harmed. It would be far better for this appalling underclass to be offered financial inducements not to have children, given the toxic environment that they would provide for any child in their care."

Laws’ comments provoked a firestorm of outrage after a local newspaper, the Dominion-Post, interpreted his statements to mean that he wants all welfare recipients to be sterilized, which the mayor denies.

New Zealand is third among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations for child deaths due to maltreatment, and fifth for both child beatings and sexual abuse. Despite these statistics, child welfare advocates don't share Laws' views on how to improve them.

"I just find it such a disgraceful attitude,'' said Janfrie Wakim, director of Child Poverty Action Group. "It's hard to comprehend that an intelligent man who's leading a city is making such reprehensible suggestions.''