Winston Peters is staying put as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, despite his party's donations vehicle, the New Zealand First Foundation, facing a Serious Fraud Office investigation.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rejected suggestions there was any need for him to stand aside as a minister despite him having done so in 2008 in similar circumstances when his party was investigated by the SFO.
But at her post Cabinet press conference she failed to affirm when asked if she trusted Peters.
"I have an excellent working relationship with him," she said. "We have proven that we can deliver a strong stable Government and ultimately the issues that have been raised today is not a matter for any of us to simply give a word. It is actually for these things to be properly investigated and that is what is happening."
With that, she left the 30-minute press conference.
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Previously asked about Peters standing aside, Ardern said: "This is only just been a matter that has been referred to the SFO. I am going to let them do their job. I will not pass judgement on whether an offence has occurred or if it has, who may be responsible until they have completed their work."
She said later that the issue of him standing aside had not been discussed.
She would not express any view about whether it would be better for the SFO to complete its investigation before the September 19 election.
When reminded that Peters had stood aside in 2008 when the Serious Fraud Office investigated donations to New Zealand First made through the Spencer Trust Ardern said she would make her own judgments.
Winston Peters calls for police complaint over NZ First information breach
Asked what the difference was between the situation Helen Clark faced as Prime Minister and what she faced, Ardern said: "My job is to deal with the circumstances in front of me, not to draw reflections on what someone else did 10 years ago and this is the judgment I have made."
She had spoken to Peters after Cabinet today about the issue and had welcomed the fact it was going to be properly investigated.
"Equally he himself has sought assurances of the New Zealand first Foundation around correct conduct."
Ardern said electoral finance laws should be reviewed, no matter what the outcome of the SFO investigation.
"In my view no one in New Zealand is served by questions being raised around our electoral finance regime."
The time to do that was at the conclusion of both cases in front of the Serious Fraud Office processes involving donations to National and New Zealand First.
"I think that is the right thing to do. We need all New Zealanders to have faith in the system and our regime. It may well be that this is a demonstration that our laws are working but let's ask the question and make sure we are confident that our system is working."
The Electoral Commission has been looking at donations to the New Zealand First Foundation and today referred the matter to the police for further inquiry. The police immediately referred it to Serious Fraud Office.
"Based on the information available, we have formed the view that the New Zealand First Foundation has received donations which should have been treated as party donations for the New Zealand First Party," the Electoral Commission said in a statement.
"In the Commission's view, the donations were not properly transmitted to the party and not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act 1993."
Peters claim his party's foundation had been modelled on the National Foundation set up by the National Party.
But unlike New Zealand First, National declares all donations made to its foundation as political donations.
Peters said in a statement that he had advised his party last week to review its donations regime and refer the matter to the police itself which it had agreed to do.
"This does not imply any impropriety but is intended to ensure the party, as with all parties, have robust arrangements.
"I am advised that in all its dealings the Foundation sought outside legal advice and does not believe it has breached the Electoral Act."