'Nope' – Ardern denies she's going easy on controversy-hit NZ First with election just months away

The Prime Minister is standing firm on her stance to distance herself from the Serious Fraud Office investigation into donations made to the NZ First foundation, and allegations that Winston Peters had journalists followed and photographed over their reporting on the investigation.

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The Prime Minister said she isn’t holding back because Labour would need NZ First to form a Government again. Source: Breakfast

Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast today she isn't going easy on New Zealand First in hopes of forming a Government after the general election in September.

"I haven't stayed silent," said Ms Ardern.

"I’ve been very clear, yes it has been referred to the Serious Fraud Office in the same way that we've had that same process for the National Party in recent times.

She said no final decision about whether any laws had been broken has been made. 

"I don’t want to be premature. I don't want to get in front of decisions made by the independent agency who are here to make these decisions. They need to determine what’s gone on here and whether there's been an offence and if so who committed it," said Ms Ardern. 

When asked by Breakfast presenter Hayley Holt as to whether she was going easy on NZ First because Labour needed the party in order to form a Government the Prime Minister simply replied "nope". 

As to allegations that Winston Peters had journalists followed for their reporting on the SFO investigation, Ms Ardern said it's not her job to take action. 

"There is a distinction here,  I run the Government, individual party leaders need to be responsible for their own management of their political parties," she said. 

The two journalists photographed were RNZ reporter Guyon Espiner and Stuff reporter Matt Shand. Both of whom were involved in investigative pieces looking into a scandal around political donations and the NZ First Foundation.

They were photographed with former NZ First president Lester Grey.

'No interest' - Winston Peters backtracks on photos taken of journalists investigating NZ First Foundation

Initially, Mr Peters took responsiblity for the photographs of the two journalists in subject, he then distanced the party from the photos, and said it was a supporter who took the photo.

Photos of the journalists meeting with Mr Grey had been published alongside an online blog criticising the reporting around the donations.

Ms Ardern said in an election year there will be a number of these situations.

"There's going to be some mud-slinging going back and forth. My job is to make sure I run the Government, that I do that well, political parties and their leaders have to be responsible for the management of their own parties."