Prime Minister Bill English says he no longer has the text messages he is reported to have sent to his former staffer Glenys Dickson.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has repeatedly questioned English about records he claims shows English sent more than 450 texts to Dickson including several over the time Dickson resigned from her role as MP Todd Barclay's staffer over claims he secretly recorded her.

English has not denied the texts occurred but has refused to discuss their content.

Today he said he no longer had a record of the texts, although it is unclear whether he deleted them or lost them when he changed to a new phone.


Asked if there was anything in them that might embarrass him in the texts, he said "I'm not particularly concerned about that." He had not checked because he had no record of them.

"I've got a different phone."

A spokesman later said English routinely deleted his texts "for security reasons." "There was not any reason to keep these texts because they were not in a ministerial capacity." Texts that were in a ministerial capacity were archived by staff.

Asked if he had destroyed texts that might be needed for a Police investigation, English said there was no suggestion of that. He would be happy to talk about the texts with the Police if asked.

He said the matter was now before the Police and any relevant material he had had already been given to the Police in its initial investigation. "The Police haven't come and asked for anything else."

That appears to refer to his earlier statement to Police in the initial investigation and texts discussing the recording and a settlement with Dickson to then Clutha Southland chair Stuart Davie.

Asked if he was concerned Peters had the content of the texts and would release them, he said "that's up to Mr Peters."

Before question time Peters was repeatedly asked if he had English's text messages, and told media to watch his question when he asked it in the House.

During that exchange with English Peters referred to a previously published text message between English and the former Clutha South electorate chair discussing the settlement paid to Dickson - but did not reveal the contents of any other messages.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has backed off the issue, saying today she did not intend to pursue English on the matter and would leave that to others.

"We have in the past, but as leader I will not be pursuing that. It's because I think there are issues we should be focussing on as a party and it's not on my agenda. It's up the PM to answer those questions."

She said her focus was on what Labour was putting up for the election. "I do not believe when voters go into the ballot box and look at the parties presented in front of them they are making a call around the vision a political party has for New Zealand based on machinations like that."