Green MP Ricardo Menendez March has revealed the reason for his trip to Mexico - he went to visit his sick father and terminally ill step-mother.
March, who is currently in managed isolation with his partner in Christchurch, says he wasn't given any special favours and secured his spot in MIQ by checking the website and applying for a voucher.
While he had applied for a spot under Emergency Allocation, he didn't meet the criteria - something he accepted.
Questions were raised about the new MP's travel earlier today after it was revealed he had returned to his home country for "serious personal family matters" - despite official government advice that all New Zealanders should remain in the country.
March - who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico - said travelling to the country was not an easy decision and one that he actually delayed after becoming an MP.
He said he had originally booked an urgent flight in the hope of caring for his step-mother and ill father before the election.
"My step-mum has had breast cancer diagnosis that she has been battling for several years, she recently had an aggressive relapse and has been given between six to 12 months to live. For several years since my biological mum's passing, she has been a core part of my nuclear family.
"During the pandemic my dad had undergone major surgery (with long-lasting effects), and the person who had cared for them had become extremely ill herself and was unable to care for them."
His long-term partner, who was based in Mexico, took up the role of caring for them in October and November.
"With the summer break approaching, I sought advice from both party co-leader Marama Davidson and our musterer [whip] Jan Logie on returning to my homeland to care for my parents. I received their blessing and booked a flight for Dec 13th."
March said his partner had been trying to secure a visa for him to live and work in New Zealand since last June. On January 11 he was granted a six-month New Zealand Visitor Visa, roughly the same time as March planned to come back.
They then began the process to try and return to New Zealand.
"My process to return to New Zealand was, as expected, difficult. I applied for the Emergency Allocation through the relevant department (MBIE). Whilst applying, MBIE asked for proof of my need to return to work.
"My musterer Jan Logie provided a short letter to them that it was important I return to work for Parliamentary duties. The head of MBIE also called my co-leader James Shaw to ask if it was important I be prioritised. During this phone conversation, James rightfully made it clear that I should not receive special treatment and should be assessed normally alongside everyone else."
March said he accepted he didn't meet the criteria to return on an Emergency Allocation so kept checking the MIQ website and applying for voucher for a spot in MIQ.
"I managed to secure a spot on Feb 1, and both my partner and I were able to return to New Zealand and safely quarantine. We are now coming to the end of our time in quarantine, but as a precautionary measure, we will self isolate at home in Auckland for an additional five days before I return to Parliament."
He praised the staff at the MIQ hotel he was staying at in Christchurch.
He also acknowledged his "immense privilege".
"I understand that many New Zealanders do not have the resources or the available leave from work to go and visit their very sick and dying parents. I understand the collective loss in that and I acknowledge that the difficult decision I made to return to Tijuana was also one grounded in good fortune."
March said the past six weeks had taken a significant toll on him but he is now focusing on his family and getting "stuck back into work" once he returns to Parliament the week after next.
The Government-run MIQ system has come under increasing strain in recent months with New Zealanders abroad struggling to secure spots in order to return home.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he had steered clear of the case when contacted by MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain when March applied for an emergency spot in MIQ.
"I indicated that I was not going to get involved in that decision-making process in any way."
Tremain also contacted party co-leader James Shaw.
"What I said was: under no circumstances should he get special treatment," Shaw said.
National Party leader Judith Collins said earlier today she would not have allowed any of her caucus to travel overseas at the moment.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would expert her Labour MPs to adhere to the same requirements which apply to all New Zealanders.