Cabinet Minister Kris Faafoi says his offer to help a friend with an immigration matter was "dumb" but he did not break the rules.
The Broadcasting and Commerce Minister apologised to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday over his "messy" handling of the issue and said she had given him a "stern talking to".
He did not offer his resignation in his meeting with Ardern because he said he didn't follow through on an offer to help his friend Jason Kerrison get a visa for his stepfather.
"I said some dumb things but I did not do the wrong thing," he said at a press conference in Auckland.
Kerrison, a singer for the band Opshop and Faafoi's close family friend, had asked for the former Associate Immigration Minister's help with getting a partnership visa for his step-father Gitonga "Mich" Obadiah, a Kenyan national.
After Kerrison contacted Faafoi through Facebook in August, the minister said he would talk to "people who can speed things up". When Kerrison later said there had been no progress, Faafoi said: "Bro I have a plan - but it can't be plastered over [Facebook]."
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Faafoi said yesterday that after this conversation he got advice about how he should deal with the matter, and was told he could support Kerrison's efforts but could not advocate for him. He relayed this to Kerrison before asking his friend's local MP - National's Matt King, to take on the matter.
Faafoi admitted he was uncomfortable with the number of messages he was getting from Kerrison, and said he should have been more upfront in his replies.
"Some of the responses to those messages were dumb. I was trying to let down a friend easy and not cause conflict."
Ardern said she still had confidence in Faafoi but that he should have dealt with the issue "in a much clearer manner".
"I've made my views on that very clear to him," she said.
National Party leader Simon Bridges had called for Ardern to stand Faafoi down, saying that it was a clear conflict of interest and that the Government appeared to give favourable treatment to celebrities.
Immigration New Zealand said it had no record of any MP or minister making representations on Obadiah's case.
It also confirmed that Kerrison's stepfather was declined a partnership visa in August because he did not meet immigration requirements.
Facebook messages show that after Faafoi stopped responding to Kerrison, the singer said he would speak to the media "for some follow-up action".
Faafoi did not criticise his friend, but instead apologised to him for not following through on his promise to show his support for Obadiah.
"I hope we will continue to be friends. Obviously he's not happy with the way I've dealt with him at the moment."
Faafoi had given up his immigration portfolio when he had the conversations with Kerrison. Considered one of Labour's strongest performers, he was promoted to Cabinet in June, taking on the broadcasting and commerce portfolios.