Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was sent a text message commending the decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency by someone who is both a friend of the Czech drug-smuggler and an acquaintance of hers.

That man was Richie Hardcore, whose Instagram's account shows him posing with Ardern in multiple photos and referring to her as "a friend" and "the people's champ".

National has slammed the Prime Minister after the revelation, with leader Simon Bridges saying Ardern had not been upfront about the message from Hardcore and it was time she told the whole story.

"She's only told us this much because of our relentless questioning. It beggars belief to say that this would be the first contact that she has had with Richie Hardcore about this case."


Bridges said Ardern should release the full text message, and asked why Hardcore would have sent a text if she didn't know who Sroubek was.

"For total clarity, the Prime Minister should appear in the House tomorrow and make a Ministerial Statement about her associations with Richie Hardcore, Sroubek and any of their other associates."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that the text from Hardcore was unsolicited, and was the only correspondence between them on this matter.

Other Instagram photos show Hardcore – a former martial arts champion-turned-personal trainer and now social justice campaigner – posing with Sroubek, formally known as Jan Antolik.

In one photo of the pair, Hardcore wrote in the caption: "My bro fromer #WorldChampion Jan Antolik and I after #training number 11 for the week."

In another photo of the two together, dated May 2013, Hardcore wrote the caption: "Crazy people in the Czech Republic! Big Jan, Joey y Yo! Tough guys do #selfies."

Three other Instagram photos from Hardcore's account show him posing with Ardern.

In a September 2014 photo, he called Ardern "one of the smartest, coolest & compassionate people I'm lucky enough to call a friend."


In another – taken in Parliament in May 2015 – he referred to Ardern as "the people's champ".

The revelation follows weeks of pressure from National MPs about who might have tried to influence Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway over Sroubek, hinting that it might be someone associated with the Government.

Lees-Galloway initially granted Sroubek residency, but has since overturned it.

During Question Time today, National's immigration spokesman Michael Woodhouse asked Lees-Galloway if Hardcore, believed to be a friend and supporter who met Sroubek through kick-boxing circles, had supported Sroubek.

Lees-Galloway said he would not be divulging who had advocated for Sroubek, saying there was no public interest in the information.

But after Question Time a spokesman for Ardern revealed that Hardcore had texted the Prime Minister after news broke of Sroubek being granted residency.

"The Prime Minister received a text message from Richie Hardcore following media coverage of the first decision about Karel Sroubek that acknowledged the decision. She did not respond to the text."

The spokesman said that Ardern and Hardcore were acquaintances and she had known him for years through his public advocacy work.

She did not know whether Hardcore had advocated for Sroubek, the spokesman said.

Hardcore is a fan of Ardern, writing on his Facebook page when she was elected Prime Minister: "I'm so happy someone I truly know is a kind and decent person is leading the country".

Woodhouse first asked Lees-Galloway about Hardcore during Question Time on November 7, over a month ago, and Lees-Galloway declined to answer because it might prejudice an Immigration NZ review.

Today, Lees-Galloway said there was no public interest in naming the people who had supported Sroubek, but there had been no lobbying from MPs, former MPs, or their partners or staff.

"None of those who made representations were known to me. None of them were MPs, or former MPs, or MPs' partners. I am unaware if any of the people had or have links to any political party."

Asked what indirect or informal lobbying there had been in support of Sroubek, including from MPs' staff or supporters, Lees-Galloway said: "None."

He said there were pleadings on Sroubek's behalf from friends, family and business associates when Lees-Galloway wrote to him on September 19, granting him New Zealand residency in his real name and cancelling his deportation liability.

After the Immigration NZ review and intense political pressure, Lees-Galloway issued a new deportation notice to Sroubek, meaning he would have to leave New Zealand after finishing his jail sentence.

Sroubek is appealing the notice to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.