A Labour MP has apologised for comparing the National Party to Adolf Hitler over controversial legislation allowing partial asset sales.
While asset sales were being debated in Parliament yesterday, Wigram MP Megan Woods tweeted: "Hitler had a pretty clear manifesto that he campaigned and won on ... does this make what he did OK?''.
The "mixed ownership model'' legislation narrowly passed by 61 votes to 60.
Today Ms Woods apologised to her 537 twitter followers for drawing parallel between the Government's actions and those of Hitler that ultimately resulted in the death of six million Jews.
"My comments yesterday were said in heat and were extreme and I apologise'', she tweeted.
Ms Woods and representatives from Labour leader David Shearer's office today would not be drawn on whether an apology on Twitter was appropriate for the comments, which were broadcast and reported.
"I'm not going to be making any further comment but I just wanted to give you the courtesy of returning the call,'' Ms Woods said.
She had initially defended her comments when challenged via Twitter whether the Nazi comparison was helpful.
"As a historian usually I would agree but fact remains that nats are using faulty logic that historical examples can show,'' she tweeted.
She added: "Point is that simply stating something before an election does not make it right! Example is extreme but exposes logic''.
Her comments drew a backlash from many who said they were shocked and disgusted by the comparison.
"If we didn't have good manners, we would be utterly indistinguishable from hitler -the labour party, I guess'' wrote one tweeter.
"Whenever #Labour get desperate, they try to out-Hitler the Tories on immigration. It's pathetic and disgusting,'' said another.
This morning, Ms Woods' initial controversial comments and her later tweets defending them remained on her Twitter account.
Jewish refugee Freda Narev, who lost her family in the Holocaust, was outraged by Ms Woods' comments.
"Nothing compares with what Hitler did because he made an industry out of the annihilation of the Jews. Nothing, nothing can compare and certainly not in New Zealand, the 75-year-old Auckland woman told APNZ.
"I'm really furious because it means that sort of trivialises the sacrifice that my family made,'' she said
Mr Shearer said earlier he had spoken to Ms Woods about her comments, which he described as "unfortunate''.
"She's mortified she caused any problems and any concerns to people,'' he said.