Government MP Aupito Sua William Sio has apologised for a post claiming the death toll in the Christchurch terror attack had reached 51 - and then claiming the 4-year-old girl critically injured in the shootings was the latest victim.
Alin Alsati continues to fight for her life and is in a critical but stable condition in Auckland's Starship children's hospital.
Sio initially posted on social media tonight: "It's now 51!"
One person responded: "NOOOooo! Who has passed. Please not the little girl or her Dad!"
Sio responded: "Yes".
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He has since removed his original message, but posted shortly before 10pm: "Earlier today as I was speaking at a gathering in Manukau to pay respects to the victims and their families of the Christchurch attack, I made mention of the 50 people killed, and a man called out from the audience and corrected me by saying it was now 51.
"Later he said it was a Pakistani boy in North Shore. I took him at his word that a Muslim child had passed away, and perhaps related to the Christchurch attack, and simply posted up: Its now 51
"I regret any pain and hurt this post may have caused and have deleted it. My heartfelt apologies, if this child's death is unrelated to the victims of the Christchurch terror attack.
"I apologise sincerely for giving the wrong impression to people."
Sio - who is the Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister for Justice and Courts - did not respond to an approach from the Herald for comment.
Alin, who turns 5 next month, was praying with her father, barber Wasseim Alsati, when she was shot up to three times in the March 15 attacks that killed 43 people at the Deans Ave mosque and seven others at the Linwood mosque.