National MP Alfred Ngaro won't comment on speculation he is planning on splitting off from National to form his own Christian conservative party.
But National Leader Simon Bridges has revealed to the Herald that Ngaro is "considering" the possibility.
"I talked to Alfred a month or two back – people have been talking to him and raising this with him as something he's considering – I've accepted that; I've said for him to get back to me," Bridges said this morning.
But he said it's not something that National was involved in.
"It's something for him to work out, but I think what we'll do is we'll give Alfred the space to think that through and work out whether he does it or not."
Bridges said the prospect of a Christian conservative party was something which could be "very alluring" for some voters.
"The truth is, people who are values-based religious, who have faith at the moment vote for all political parties, so you would expect a Christian values party to be drawing those votes from across the spectrum."
Speaking to the Herald this morning, Ngaro would not rule out the prospect of forming a new party, responding to speculation by saying he would comment on the issue when he's ready.
Asked if he was planning on launching a new party, he repeatedly refused to comment.
"I'm not making any comments – but when I do, you will know," he told the Herald at the Lower North Island National Party Conference in Wellington.
Ngaro did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Friday.
"When I decide to make a comment, I'll make a comment. But right now, I'm not making any comment," he said this morning.
On Friday, the Herald reported that talks were underway regarding Ngaro setting up a setting up a new party, focused on socially conservative issues.
Ngaro is a former Cabinet minister and has strong ties to the Christian community. He studied at Bible College and was a pastor before becoming an MP in 2011.
It had been speculated that National could do a deal with Ngaro, whereby it would make it clear it supported Ngaro winning the seat – much like it has done with ACT in Epsom.
A spokeswoman for National leader Simon Bridges said on Friday that there had been "no discussions about deals in seats going on".
She said there is always a lot of rumour and speculation around coalition partners for National.
"We've always said options will appear before the election. We've already seen the Sustainable New Zealand Party.
"Time will tell what else comes up."
But the idea has been welcomed by political commentators.
Bryce Edwards said the prospect of Ngaro forming and leading the party is "to be taken very seriously".
"It's very clear this is what National needs. They need a coalition ally and this has always been on the cards," he said, referring to the emergence of a conservative Christian party.
Political commentator Ben Thomas said in the past, conservative and Christian parties have hovered at over 4 per cent of the vote so the establishment of a new, Ngaro-led party makes sense.
"Jami-Lee Ross's implosion in Botany gives National a unique chance to surrender a seat to a client party, and if a new party could pick up that seat then it could channel votes that have been wasted in the past on the Conservatives or Christian parties into a minor party that could support National."
Despite this, he thinks it's unlikely the party will get off the ground.