A Young Nat pinged by official documents as the man behind an Auckland mayoral race website switcheroo hung up when asked if he'd registered the fake page.
But before disconnecting the Herald's call, Young Nats Northern deputy chairman Tristram Speedy confirmed the listing of his name on Domain Name Commission registration documents for efesocollins.co.nz was correct.
Instead of opening the website for Auckland councillor and wannabe mayor Efeso Collins the address redirects users to the website of rival candidate Leo Molloy, which has already sparked complaints to Auckland Council and the Electoral Commission.
"It's not a mistake, and that's unfortunate", said Speedy, whose LinkedIn profile also lists him as a "retail sales representative" for Vapo along with the Young Nats role.
Speedy initially didn't want to comment when the Herald phoned him tonight.
"I'm gonna have to decline any further comment," he said at the start of the conversation, after not responding to previous messages left by the Herald.
"I'm gonna have to consult with a few guys. I can get back to you when I do, tomorrow morning."
Asked what he meant by "a few guys" and if that included a lawyer, Speedy said he needed to speak to a few people "just to figure out what's best to move forward".
The Young Nats' name was revealed when Auckland man Paul Brislen laid a complaint with the commission after seeing only "fake details" in their online record for efesocollins.co.nz
The InternetNZ subsidiary records the name of the person who registered a .co.nz web address, and handles disputes.
"My concern wasn't with the content of the site but that the process around registering a domain name. This is important for all websites but doubly so for those relating to political parties and elections."
This morning, Brislen was alerted that the commission's entry for efesocollins.co.nz had been updated to record "Tristram Speedy" as the person who registered the address.
Websites can be suspended if registration details aren't accurate, and the commission's
own checks and validation process kick in if a complaint was received, acting Domain Name Commissioner Isobel Egerton said.
Molloy said he didn't have a clue that the link existed nor who was behind it, but would be amazed if any of his team were as he wouldn't approve of it.
"I'm not aware of this. I'm normally the subject of dark arts, not the giver of dark arts. I had no idea."
Collins - whose actual campaign website address is efeso.co.nz - earlier told RNZ the misdirection was a cheap shot.
"When you're in a game like this you want to play hard but fair and make sure no matter who your opposition is, you are not doing anything that's underhanded towards them - so pretty un-Kiwi in my books."
But the Labour and Green-endorsed candidate, who became aware of the domain issue last year, said he believed Molloy when he said he wasn't involved.
A website purporting to be for another mayoral candidate, Craig Lord, also redirects to Molloy's site.
As of this morning, the entry for the redirecting Craig Lord site still had a fake name, "Craig Who", listed as the registrant.
Lord, who became aware of the situation several weeks ago, was less trusting of Molloy, who said he was also not involved in the fake website address for Lord.
"Craig who?" has been a recurring dig from the Molloy camp during the campaign, Lord told RNZ.
"I know Collins does [believe that Molloy wasn't involved] but he's just a nice bloke but no, I don't believe it."
Websites are not under their control and not covered under advertising provisions, Auckland Council elections programme manager Elodie Fontaine said this month.
"We hope whoever is responsible for these actions carefully considers whether this is morally appropriate and in the spirit of the fair democratic process, and acts accordingly."
Registering rivals' domain names wasn't illegal, but was also not exactly ethical, Auckland City Council electoral officer Dale Ofsoske told RNZ.
"There actually has been no offence or breach under the Local Electoral Act."
The council investigation was ongoing.
In March, two Young Nats resigned after female politicians from Christchurch were harassed online.
National leader Christopher Luxon confirmed the resignations but wouldn't say who they were.
The online abuse was unacceptable and incompatible with the party's standards, Luxon said.