An unusual comment about Judith Collins "lurking in the corner" from Shane Jones incited laughter as he discussed National's reshuffle today.
The NZ First MP told TVNZ1's Breakfast Collins' removal from her party's infrastructure portfolio was "depreciation", especially since she got no warning about the removal.
However, Paula Bennett defended the situation, saying there was no rift in the party or power plays made by leader Simon Bridges.
"She [Ms Collins] was on leave that day and wasn't there, so they had played phone tag," she said. "Simon had called her, left a message, she'd call back, he called her again - so they had been toing and froing all of that day and that is simply logistics, no other reason for it."
But Mr Jones, spokesperson for infrastructure, said the sector was a vital area and "the fact that she's been moved on from that can only be read as really a depreciation".
"Judith is a powerful politician and she lies, or sits, or waits lurking in the corner."
Breakfast host Hayley Holt asked, "what is she lurking for? Is she going to wait and pounce out at him when he walks around the corner?"
Mr Bridges is under pressure as polls frequently show Mrs Collins sitting favourably in the preferred prime minister stakes.
Ms Bennett said the comment had "all sorts of connotations".
"I know people would love to write that narrative but actually our reshuffle was fantastic," she said, elbowing Mr Jones and calling him "the old slug".
She said "young whipper-snapper" Chris Bishop was after him and getting his hands on "that spending fund of yours, giving money away willy-nilly".
This afternoon Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce her first reshuffle while in office. She's said it will be "relatively minor" and she will give everyone fair warning if they are getting moved.
But Mr Jones remained tight-lipped on whether or not he'd had "the call".
"She said, as I understand, that the changes are going to be modest in nature but there's always a lot of excitement, people have new opportunities, people may or may not get moved around," Mr Jones said. "But I don't think anyone is going to depose me."