Key Points:

It was supposed to be "100 days of action" ... . but the new Government's urgent agenda includes 28 days of a skeleton holiday-time operation.

Despite the global economic crisis, Prime Minister John Key is on leave at his Hawaii getaway and - as in past summers - other ministers have been acting as the lone "duty minister".

Ministers have been taking turns in the duty role every three days and they don't have to be in the Beehive - so they can take calls at the bach if they desire.

The continuing economic crisis and short break in the wintry northern hemisphere has kept leaders there busy.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been outlining ideas to fight the crisis and United States President-elect Barack Obama has been speaking of a "day of reckoning".

Mr Key's Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd has taken a 3week break but published an article in the Financial Times last week urging world leaders to act together in a "global response".

Mr Key, who left for Hawaii just after Christmas, will be back home on Wednesday.

In his absence, his deputy, Bill English - also on holiday but contactable by cellphone - has been acting Prime Minister.

A spokesman for Mr Key said he had not heard of any consideration being given to ministers or staff being held back because of the economic crisis.

"In the absence of a bank collapsing or whatever what would we do? If a bank did collapse you'd have half the Reserve Bank back I'd imagine, as well as the Treasury and the Finance Minister's office."

It had been a big year for National, and getting a break was "very important".

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, on holiday in Europe, criticised the Government for taking a "laissez-faire" approach to the economic crisis.

"The rest of the world is aware there's an economic crisis on, they are aware there's a huge international crisis in Gaza, and the New Zealand government is on holiday," she said.

"At the end of the day, when you're elected, you don't have a 100 per cent holiday."

Opposition Labour leader Phil Goff said the summer season was no excuse for inaction, and compared to other countries, the Government was leaving a "big void" in dealing with the economic crisis.

Reserve Bank Governor Allan Bollard and Treasury Secretary John Whitehead were both back at work last week.

Despite Mr Key's return, the four-week duty minister roster runs until the first Cabinet meeting on Tuesday January 21.

The government will then have 38 days left in its 100 days.

* The first 100 days

Nov 19-Dec 22: Swearing-in to the start of a holiday "duty roster" (34 days)

Dec 23-Jan 20: Most ministers on holiday (28 days)

Jan 21-Feb 26: First Cabinet meeting to end of 100-day period (38 days)