Jacinda Ardern said this morning she is "absolutely gutted" to learn of Kiwi woman Abby Hartley's death in Bali. But the Prime Minister also held firm that the Government made the right decision by not intervening with an expensive medevac.
"I do want to join with the number of Kiwis who have expressed condolences to the family," Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast.
"What has been an eye opener for me, though, is the number of cases where we are called upon to help New Zealanders abroad," she said. "We have roughly 3000 calls for consular assistance overseas every year. Over 200 of those relate to medical issues, and we lose roughly 180 New Zealanders abroad every year."
There is help provided to those New Zealanders, she said. But that help doesn't involve doing what an insurance company should do, she said.
"When it comes to significant medical events, then that's when we're always hoping and seeking the assistance of insurers to support New Zealanders, when there are situations like medevacs," she said.
Ms Hartley, 41, was hospitalised on August 1 while on holiday with her husband, Richard, as part of a second honeymoon on the Indonesian island.
A Givealittle fundraising effort raised $237,000 to fly Ms Hartley back to New Zealand after her travel insurer didn't pay out, saying she had not disclosed a pre-existing medical condition.
Her death was confirmed to 1 NEWS this morning, shortly before the Prime Minister was scheduled to make her weekly appearance on Breakfast.
"In this case I do want to acknowledge New Zealanders really stepped up, provided support to the family," Ms Ardern said. "I want to acknowledge every New Zealander who did that. And it's incredibly sad that despite that funding being raised, it wasn't obviously in the position to be utilised."
Breakfast host Hayley Holt pointed to the immense pressure that was put on the Government to make an exception to the rule for the Hartley family.
"Do you think you should have done more?" Holt asked.
Government officials have pointed out that the policy has been the same through multiple governments. Ms Ardern referred to the "provision in place for the assistance we give" and repeated her call for insurance companies to step up.
"The thing that I find tough to know is there will, of course, be other cases like this," she said. "In those cases, we're always hoping the insurers do their bit to support New Zealanders when they have that insurance."