Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not spell out the reasons behind her first sacking of a minister when she stood Meka Whaitiri down today.

But John Key didn't either when he sacked Richard Worth in his first year as prime minister.

In the end, it was enough that they lost confidence in their ministers.


They both knew a lot more than the public about allegations against their ministers.

At least Ardern has asked that a public version of the confidential report she received last night into an altercation between the ex-minister and a staff member be drawn up and released.

Ardern's decision to fire Whaitiri was a surprise.

In contested versions of what took place, and with no witnesses, it was widely assumed that the Prime Minister would take the word of her minister.

That she didn't points to other factors having weighed heavily in the decision, despite Ardern maintaining it was about only the one incident.

Ardern hinted at those factors when she indicated she had encouraged Whaitiri to get training in how to be a better boss.

Soon after Whaitiri's suspension, it became apparent that she had had a high turnover of staff and a reputation of being difficult to work for.

The process has been more than fair for Whaitiri and Ardern has held out a sliver of hope that Whaitiri could be allowed back one day if she changes.


But the saga went on for far too long and that was because of Ardern's management of it.

She could have reached the same conclusion within a couple of days. She did not need to rely on a report by a public servant.

As for whether Whaitiri continues to co-lead the Maori caucus, that is not an issue for Ardern but for Whaitiri's colleagues.

Coupled with the spectacle over Clare Curran's demotion then resignation, both sagas contributed significantly to Ardern's patchy performance since returning from maternity leave and a perception she is weak.

The past week has seen a recovery.

With the two recalcitrant ministers dealt with, the refugee quota policy settled, the problems with the Maori Crown relations agency ironed out, the Iraq deployment extended, the "road map" set out in her speech last Sunday, and a Happy Families Coalition photo to boot, she can leave for the United Nations on Saturday having cleared the political clutter.