Prime Minister John Key has joined other world leaders in condemning the two-year jail sentences handed down to Russian all-girl punk band Pussy Riot.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were last week jailed for "hooliganism driven by religious hatred" after performing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral earlier this year.
The song reportedly called for the Virgin Mary to get rid of Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Key told media that while he has not had official advice on the case, the sentence "looks a bit disproportionate to me".
"Two years is quite a long sentence for the comments that were made."
However, it appears unlikely that Mr Key will raise the matter with Mr Putin when they meet at APEC in the southern Russian city of Vladivostok next month - saying they would discuss it "if it comes up as a topic of conversation".
"It's more likely our ambassador will raise it with the foreign service in Russia," Mr Key said.
His comments followed criticism of the sentence from other Western countries and a number of stars, including Madonna.
The European Union and United States called the sentences "disproportionate".
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the case added to a "recent upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation".
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US has "serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the sentence "excessively harsh".