Jacinda Ardern has admitted a delay in seeking professional help for teenage victims of alleged sexual assaults at a Labour youth camp was unacceptable.
Allegations emerged yesterday afternoon on the Newsroom website that four 16-year-old Labour members were sexually assaulted at a Coromandel summer camp the party hosted last month.
The Prime Minister this morning spoke on TVNZ 1's Breakfast, criticising the breakdown in correct support procedures following the alleged assaults by a 20-year-old man.
"They (the alleged assault victims) were contacted again after the camp to check in and follow through again on what support should be offered," Ms Ardern said.
"We had contact back and my understanding is at that point we should have been offering professional services at that point, we're not professionals.
"The organisers had good intentions and are good people but we're not professionals and we should have been offering that straight away.
"There was a delay before that happened."
Ms Ardern said following this delay, of an unknown period, Labour Party leadership were made aware and professional help was brought in to support the alleged victims.
The Prime Minister would not reveal at what point she was made aware of the incident.
"To be honest, I don't see that as being the primary focus," Ms Ardern said.
"Focusing on me, that's a political response, that's about risk management, that shouldn't have been the focus here, the focus should have been on these young people involved.
"That's much more important than me knowing, so I'm not particularly concerned about that."
The Prime Minister said as soon as she knew, however, she did want assurances that everything had possibly been done to support the assault victims.
Ms Ardern said advice given to Labour Party President Nigel Haworth, and Labour Party General Secretary Andrew Kirton, was not to widen news of the alleged assault too far, and abide by the victims' wishes in terms of actions.
Labour leadership are currently working with Young Labour to ensure future camps and similar events are managed appropriately, the Prime Minister said.
However, she could not confirm if an external review was underway of Labour Party leadership.
"That's not my understanding but I couldn't give you a certain answer on that, my understanding is the party council is doing that," Ms Ardern said.
The Prime Minister did go on to clarify that Labour Party leadership were seeking advice on creating a "safe environment around sexual abuse", but not external advice around alcohol consumption at Labour youth events.
Ms Ardern said the Larbour Party has sought advice from HELP on these sexual abuse issues.
She also added that Labour Party General Secretary Andrew Kirton "absolutley has my backing" and should not resign over the incident.