PM Jacinda Ardern has described Emergency Management Minister Kiritapu Allan's handling of the March tsunami warnings as "remarkable".
"She was dealing with that level of uncertainty around a diagnosis and yet there she was, on the podium helping to lead the country through a really dramatic civil defence moment.
"It was remarkable, but she is remarkable."
Allan announced this morning she was taking medical leave from Parliament after being diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.
The 37-year-old MP for the East Coast called it the fight of her life, revealing a six-centimetre-long tumour was discovered the same day she led the country through a tsunami and evacuation alert in March.
In a Facebook post, Allan wrote that on the day in early March where there was series of earthquakes far off the North Island's east coast, spurring multiple tsunami warnings, she was "managing the earthquakes early morning, then headed the hospital for another ultra sound at about 8am".
"This was a longer ultra scan then the previous day and they took a number of smears and biopsies as well."
Allan was praised for her handling of the emergency.
"I knew what was going on at the time," Ardern said.
"At the time I found it remarkable to know she was dealing with that level of uncertainty around a diagnosis and yet there she was, on the podium helping to lead the country through a really dramatic civil defence moment.
"I’ve been gutted by the news, the whole team is.
"We’re also so heartened by the character, the person that Kiri is. Right from the outset she’s shown a level of determination to focus on her health and well being and to ultimately come back and be a part of the team again.
"We’re here, ready and waiting for when she’s able to return."
Allan urged people to "please, please, please - encourage your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, your friends - please #SmearYourMea - it may save your life - and we need you right here".