The Finance Minister has described Simon Bridges as "desperate and disrespectful", for calling Jacinda Ardern a "part-time Prime Minister" for visiting Tokelau while issues remain at Ihumātao in South Auckland.
"Tokelauans are New Zealanders, Mr Bridges said the Prime Minister should be focusing on everyday New Zealanders, is he telling the Tokelau community they’re not everyday New Zealanders?" Grant Robertson said today.
"I don't quite know what Simon Bridges was saying when he said the phrase, 'part-time Prime Minister', I do wonder if there’s a bit of a sexist overtone.
"I'm certainly offended (by the comments)," he said. "The Prime Minister is extraordinarily hardworking, as in fact every Prime Minister of New Zealand is. There’s no such thing as a part time Prime Minister, and that is a desperate comment from someone polling six per cent."
Earlier today, the National Party leader said, "when you've got an economy stalling, when you've got the first Māori land occupation we've seen in a very long time, it beggars belief the Prime Minister right now is in Tokelau".
"Frankly, I think a lot of New Zealanders will be starting to wonder whether they have a part-time Prime Minister and a part-time Government."
When asked why the trip wasn’t taken during a Parliamentary break, Mr Robertson said he did not have all the details, "but these visits have to be organised in particular ways".
"The Prime Minister was obviously in Australia in the recess, she was working around New Zealand and she did have a one week break."
Ms Ardern is the first Prime Minister to visit Tokelau, a New Zealand territory, since 2004. She's there from July 27 to August 1.
"Just because the National Party couldn’t be bothered going to Tokelau the whole nine years they were in Government doesn’t mean our Government is going to disrespect the people of Tokelau," Mr Robertson said.
"The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of all of New Zealand."