Watch: 'Is there a $11.7 billion hole?' Hilary Barry goes at Steven Joyce who insists there was - until Labour 'changed their story'

National's Steven Joyce is not backing down from his claim that Labour's fiscal plan had $11.7 billion in unaccounted spending, blaming Labour for "changing their story".

The Finance Minister did not back down over his analysis of Labour's budget on TVNZ1's Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

Mr Joyce on Monday claimed the perceived shortfall, but multiple experts in economics have since rebutted his claims, saying Labour's numbers are solid and are simply accounted differently than the Government currently does.

The Labour leader came out swinging, saying Mr Joyce should "correct the record". Source: 1 NEWS

Speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast, Mr Joyce stayed firm that his claims were not wrong, insisting that Labour's plan did have the hole "as they presented it" and saying they had "changed their story".

"Now they've changed their story, they're saying 'oh no, we didn't mean that, we actually didn't mean to call them allowances, they weren't allowances, we meant to call them something else, and by the way we'd have zero budgets for the next two years' - which nobody believes," Mr Joyce said.

"What they are proposing to do would be very tight and impossible for a National government, let alone for a Labour government who wants to spend a lot more."

Mr Joyce pointed to a piece by business journalist Pattrick Smellie in The Dominion Post as an example of someone who agreed with him, although Mr Smellie's piece is in fact a mixed bag.

"Labour's numbers are nothing like as compromised or wrong as Joyce claimed, but it requires some heroic assumptions about Labour's ability to control all spending outside health and education to believe the numbers it's published.," Mr Smellie wrote.

"Joyce has claimed a worst case scenario ... Robertson is claiming best case."

Mr Joyce said Mr Smellie's piece "said that it's several billion dollars - he's not prepared to go all the way to my number yet".

However, Mr Smellie's piece in fact said both he and Grant Robertson were wrong, saying "it's entirely reasonable to split the difference in the interests of trying to explain what's at stake here, and to conclude that Labour's forecasts will turn out to be anything between $4 billion and $6 billion short of its published fiscal plan".

Mr Joyce went on to accuse several of New Zealand's premier economists with decades of combined experience of being either politically biased or having their numbers "around the wrong way" and said "everybody has a view".

"I had people in my office and others look at it indepth, we're confident of the numbers as presented, they are now changing their story," Mr Joyce said.

Mr Joyce, the Finance Minister, says a Labour government would increase New Zealand's debt. Source: Breakfast



Thunderstorms forecast with Northland's west coast expected to be hit hardest by severe weather battering NZ today

A MetService forecaster has told 1NEWS the west coast of Northland will be hit the hardest by the weather this morning.

Thunder storms are expected on the west coast of Northland.

Weather currently over Northland is moving away slowly to the east and drifting south.

The dominant convection that we have already experienced North of Auckland is moving away to the East.

MetService say weather has slightly weakened as it hits land.

Bad weather across much of the country

Breakfast weatherman Matty has the latest weather forecast. Source: 1 NEWS

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are due to hit parts of New Zealand today, with several weather warnings in place from MetService.

Westland is looking particularly wet with 200mm of rain expected over the next 24 hours as well as strong winds for the southern North Island and Canterbury high country.

Thunderstorms are due to roll in before noon across much of the country and may remain throughout much of the day, with particular emphasis on the entire west coast of the South Island, Northland, Auckland and Waikato.

Severe weather warnings have been issued for multiple regions by MetService, including heavy rain warnings for North Taranaki, Westland south of Otira and Fiordland.

A weather watch has been issued for heavy rain in the eastern Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, Waitomo area, Westland and Buller, and the Canterbury and Otago headwaters.

Strong winds are also possible in Wairarapa, the Marlborough Sounds, Wellington and in the Canterbury High Country.

For a full forecast, see our weather section here.

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Watch: 'That is a beast!' Tauranga swimmers bump into group of baby orcas - then massive bull orca

A group of swimmers in Tauranga got more than they bargained for during their regular lunch-time swim, coming face to face with a huge bull orca.

Steven Morris was out with his buddies from the Seamen Ocean Swim Squad when they swam into a group of baby orca whales.

Video of the once in a lifetime experience was captured on bodycam and posted to the Seamen Ocean Swim Squad's Facebook page on Monday.

"When I got around the back of Rabbit Island I sort of swam into a lot of baby orca," Mr Morris told the Waikato Times.

"We thought this was all very exciting and we go very close.

"One of the fellas said, 'oh they are just like big dolphins' but then a big one started towards us."

It was at this point that the group realised it might be best to make for the nearby rocks.

The video shows the group swearing as a large dorsal fin draws ever closer. "That is a beast," one of the men exclaims.

"It's something you joke about a bit but you never imagine seeing it up close," Mr Morris said to the Waikato Times.

"It hasn't put us off swimming and we were back out there again today after scanning the horizon."