The Minister for Women has come under fire for supporting John Key after he apologised for pulling a waitresses' ponytail.
The Prime Minister has faced a barrage of criticism for his actions, which happened a number of times at an Auckland cafe close to his Parnell mansion.
Rosie cafe worker Amanda Bailey wrote on the Daily Blog about her experience with Mr Key, who is preparing for Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli.
He passed his hair-tugging off as "a bit of horseplay", a line echoed by the Minister for Women, Louise Upston.
"As the Prime Minister has said his actions were intended to be light-hearted. It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable," she said in a statement.
"He said that in hindsight it wasn't appropriate, and that is why he apologised."
That stance has been slammed by Labour's deputy leader Annette King, who said Ms Upston was not an appropriate person for the position.
"I would have thought she would join Jackie Blue, who has shown some courage as Human Rights Commissioner, to say it is wrong," she told ONE News.
"The National Council of Women have said it is wrong. For her to not stand up and speak out, I don't think she should hold the job."
Dr Blue, a former National MP and now Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, said it was never OK to touch someone without permission, while the National Council of Women wrote an open letter to Mr Key saying his actions highlighted how sexism was part of New Zealand culture.
Mr Key was offered support by Pakuranga MP Judith Collins, despite demoting her last year after a string of high-profile scandals.
"I think he's done something that most people should do when they apologise, and that's that they do it personally, I think it's much better to do it in person," she said.
Mr Key says he apologised to the waitress after the incident and bought her some wine.