Opposition leader Simon Bridges has denied claims his colleagues in the National Party are trying to oust him as leader, following backlash against a social media post criticising the Government's Covid-19 preparedness.
The post was flooded with negative comments, many apparently from National Party supporters.
Rumours have since swirled about a possible leadership coup involving deputy leader Paula Bennett and Mark Mitchell.
But this morning on RNZ Bridges said his caucus colleagues had been in touch to say they supported him - though he wouldn't confirm he had the support of every single one.
• Simon Bridges says lockdown groundwork not done by Government
• 'Government hadn't done its homework' - Simon Bridges
• Simon Bridges' Facebook post criticising lockdown extension slammed
• National Party leadership - 'We back Simon' says Paula Bennett
Pushed on how many colleagues had told him they supported him, he said the line of questioning was "a bit silly" but confirmed he had the support of Bennett.
He was also asked about reportedly leaked internal polls which have National hovering just above 30 per cent - and appeared to deny their existence.
"You haven't seen any National Party polls."
Bennett meanwhile has tweeted that "we back Simon" and told people to "move on".
Mark Mitchell has also downplayed the rumours on Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast this morning.
"You are talking about a commentator who worked for Labour and the Greens Party, who put up a speculative post that has no basis of truth on it.
"I can tell you now, Simon is 100 per cent focused on doing his job which is leader of the opposition, which is a very tough job.
"I am 100 per cent focused on doing my job. That is, supporting my electorate and doing everything I can to emerge from this and into a recovery.
"Of course I'm supporting Simon. I always have. I'm one of his biggest supporters."
The furore follows a Facebook post in which Bridges criticised the Government's approach of staying in lockdown five days longer than originally planned.
In the post, Bridges said if the Government had done more work during the lockdown there would be no need to extend it till next Monday.
"I now worry that the harm of staying in lockdown will be greater than if we were to come out," he said in the post.
Of about 18,000 reactions to the post, just 3000 have given it a thumbs up, while the remainder reacted with laughter or anger emojis.
Bridges told RNZ there may be different views online but they were "more than matched" by the thousands of emails he had received from small business owners and others whose health was affected by the lockdown.
The National Party leader has been doing the rounds on NZ media this morning. He told the AM Show if he were in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's position he would have come out of lockdown and moved "much quicker" to a level 2 situation.
"I've looked across the ditch at our cousins [in Australia] and they've done that and they've been very successful."
He also told RNZ the general pandemic plan - which the Government had been following until recently - applied to flu and was not specific to Covid-19.
"If you look at Australia, people talk different numbers and have their own theories but ultimately you cannot argue with the fact that [numbers] in Australia [are] remarkably similar to New Zealand."
Yet that country had a much more open economy, he said. "Business people haven't had to sit there suffering in silence, worrying at night so they can't sleep."