Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has described the questioning of new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern about her plans for a family as "ridiculous".
Ms Clark tweeted: "Ridiculous in 21stC that #women in leadership positions are subjected to gender-based attacks. Are those who make them proud of themselves?"
She later added that in a "fair & equal society" it should be possible to be a mother and Prime Minister.
And she dismissed a suggestion that the whole debate, started by questioners on two TV programmes, was a ploy to raise Ms Ardern's profile as "highly unlikely".
The new Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis has described the questions as "sexist" and "stupid", and current National PM Bill English said yesterday it was "entirely her business".