National Party president Judy Kirk said she was absent from Melissa Lee's byelection campaign function on Saturday because campaign manager Jonathan Coleman assured her she had plenty of support.

Mrs Kirk watched on the television as the Korean-born list MP gave an emotional speech saying her own mistakes had contributed to the poor result in Mt Albert and she would learn from them.

Taupo-based Mrs Kirk said she had offered to go to Auckland but Dr Coleman had been "absolutely clear" there had been plenty of support on the day.

Prime Minister John Key was absent with a family commitment at Lake Taupo he said he made back in February, and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English was absent too.

Labour candidate David Shearer celebrated his victory at a function that included the party leader, president, secretary, and at least 15 MPs.

Melissa Lee appeared to have been abandoned, with the most senior party representation there being minister Pansy Wong, ranked 18th in Cabinet, and Dr Coleman.

Three other first-term MPs were there as well as the head of the party's rules committee and the regional chairman.

Mrs Kirk said Melissa Lee was "gutsy" and would dust herself off and get herself up again.

"She is emotional. I have seen that on a couple of occasions when she has gone to speak and it may be her culture," Mrs Kirk said.

Melissa's Lee's campaign was peppered with controversies, often over things she had said, such as telling low-paid workers she earned $2 an hour.

Mrs Kirk said she had been in regular contact with the candidate.

"Every time there was a little issue during the campaign I would phone her and talk to her about it and the importance of the campaign and how things were going just to give her support because she is a very, very smart lady and it is tough for her.

"I gave her huge support or as much as I could."