New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States Tim Groser himself asked to leave the position at the end of his three-year term, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has confirmed.
"Any suggestion he has been recalled by the minister or ministry is baseless," Peters said in a statement.
Stuff reported that Groser, a former minister in the previous National government, was pulled from the post in an exercise by the Coalition Government to rid itself of "less favourable" diplomats.
Stuff cited sources as saying it was in part Groser's inability to gain an exemption from US import tariffs on New Zealand steel and aluminium that led to a decision to end his time as ambassador.
However, Peters said that was not correct.
"The New Zealand Ambassador to the United States, Hon Tim Groser, is leaving his position later this year at the expiry of his three-year term.
"He was appointed by the previous government and his contract was only ever for three years.
"Mr Groser himself asked to finish at the conclusion of his three-year term and did not seek any extension."
Trade Minister David Parker also rubbished suggestions the failure to gain an exemption from tariffs was behind the end of Groser's term.
"It's not because of under-performance on trade. I can confirm that's not the case because I'd know about that because I'm Trade Minister.
US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown has told TVNZ's Q&A programme he hopes the exemptions will be extended to New Zealand
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the process to appoint a successor was underway and an announcement would be made in due course, as with all New Zealand heads of mission appointments.
The three-year posting can be extended, and previous ambassadors have done so.