The National Opposition is trying to recover from a traumatic week of leaks, confessions and resignations, which presented a massive distraction from its election campaign focus.
Leader Todd Muller is planning to give a major speech in Auckland on Tuesday in a bid to reset the agenda.
However, he faces residual questions over his public denials last week that health spokesman Michael Woodhouse had received patient information from Michelle Boag, when Woodhouse had already privately told him he had.
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker was forced to step down at the election after outing himself as the person who forward Covid-19 patient information to media, which he had received from former party stalwart Boag.
Woodhouse had received the same information relating to a different time frame, which he deleted soon after an official inquiry had been announced by the Government.
Amy Adams, No 3 in National and Covid spokeswoman, was at the media standup where 1News journalist Thomas Mead repeatedly got the brush-off from Muller over suggestions Woodhouse might have received patient data.
But she believes the two were talking past each other.
"It was very clear to me from Todd's answers that he was answering in respect of whether Michael had had any involvement in or received the information that Hamish had leaked, and he was answering very clearly on that, no.
"Although I could see there could be a talking past each other with the journalist and Todd around that."
Muller has since said he was not lying but he could have been clearer in his answers.
Adams did not believe the events of last week had dented National's credibility.
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"There is no way of getting away from the fact it has been a bit untidy.
"I don't think it dents our credibility to be holding the Government to account because from the average New Zealander's perspective I think they are far more worried about the likelihood of them losing their job and the ongoing issues around border protection."
National campaign chair Gerry Brownlee said allegations that the past week was "dirty politics" was "basically pointing to a squirrel running up a tree".
"It's not our style. As soon as it was clear what had happened, Hamish was persuaded that he had no future, and Michael Woodhouse was off to Michael Heron to explain his position," Brownlee said yesterday.
"In the end the disappointing thing about the week is that Todd had a speech about our intention how we will lay out an economic plan over the coming weeks and that got lost.
"When you lose your own messaging that's not good. But the fundamentals behind that message are not changing," Brownlee said.
How long before the public started listening would depend on how fast the party got back on track.
Muller's speech in Auckland would outline more of the economic plan in relation to the northern part of the country.
"The slogan 'jobs, jobs, jobs' is interesting but it doesn't actually tell you what, where or how."
"It's all very well to announce massive amounts of spending ... and that will mean some debt but it is how you handle it and what you spend it on that's going to be the most important thing."
Muller himself does not believe the events of the past week will damage any trust the public has in National.
"Far from it," he said in Christchurch.
"We are a party with strong values, strong integrity known for actually delivering against promises. We had an issue that occurred here. We dealt with it and it is resolved."
Woodhouse declined to comment, saying he was having some down-time this weekend.
The party issued no statement after the incidence of a fourth absconder from managed isolation in New Zealand.
Labour's campaign chair Megan Woods did not want to comment directly on National's bad week or the misleading press conference.
"It's absolutely the Opposition's job to hold us to account on our management of the border but New Zealanders rightly expect political leaders to do the right thing with sensitive information," she said.
"We need a bit of a deep breath here. This pandemic is growing not slowing around the world and all our energies need to be focused on keeping New Zealanders safe.
"There's no playbook for dealing with a major pandemic like this and we need all hands on deck."
As it happened
• Evening: Hamish Walker sends the Herald a list containing names, dates of birth and isolation facilities of then 18 active current Covid-19 cases, to use as evidence he was right is saying cases were coming from India, Pakistan and Korea but does not reveal the source.
• Weekend Herald reveals there has been a privacy breach in that it has been sent details of current Covid cases without revealing who or why it was sent. Two other media outlets reveal they have been sent the same information. None publishes the info.
• Health Minister says there will be an inquiry.
• National Health spokesman Michael Woodhouse recognises the description of the information similar to info sent to him by party stalwart Michelle Boag in four emails between June 21 and 25.
• Woodhouse texts Boag to say he had not sent his info to the media. Boag says she knows because the info is different [the number of active cases Woodhouse was sent in June were lower than the 18 active cases Walker was sent but Boag does not tell him it was Walker].
• National leader Todd Muller and Woodhouse strongly criticise the Government for the privacy breach.
• Lunchtime: Walker contacts Muller privately to confess to having forwarded Covid-19 patient information to the media.
• 3pm: Govt announces independent inquiry to be led by ex-Solicitor General Michael Heron QC.
• Muller spends day in Dunedin with Woodhouse.
• Walker issues statement about 5.30pm admitting he sent the patient details to media but says it was to expose the Govt's shortcomings at keeping data.
• Boag issues statement moments later admitting she sent the patient details to Walker. Resigns from Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust CEO, in which capacity she got the data from the Ministry of Health.
• Muller issues statement saying it was an error of judgment by Walker, that he has lost his spokesmanships, that he must co-operate with the inquiry and that he, Muller, will not be commenting further until the inquiry is over. Resignation is not mentioned.
• Woodhouse tells Muller he, too, has received similar information from Boag in June but dint do anything with them.
• Woodhouse deletes the Boag emails.
• Muller says he is angry with Walker and has referred the matter National's board of directors.
• Walker announces retirement from politics before board deselects him.
Woodhouse contacts Heron to say he was sent similar information to Walker from Boag.
• Muller has standup after speech and rejects a suggestion Woodhouse might have received similar information from Boag.
• Woodhouse publicly says he received patient information from Boag on four occasions between June 21 and 25 but did not do anything with it or tell anyone about it.
• Boag resigns from the National Party.
• Muller denies having made misleading statement the day before regarding Michael Woodhouse.
Todd Muller media standup, Thursday, July 9, Christchurch
Media: Have you sought assurances from your MPs that they knew nothing about data either held by Hamish Walker or Michelle Boag?
Muller: No, look that issue is sorted from my perspective. Obviously Hamish has made his decision and an inquiry is following up with Michelle Boag and as you saw she has made it clear publicly that her only interaction was with Hamish and no doubt that will get confirmed to the process with Michael Heron, QC.
Media: So Michelle Boag has never mentioned or offered this data to you or to any other National MP?
Muller: Look from my perspective I am just going to repeat from my perspective that issue is concluded. She has made it very clear there was a contact with Hamish. I have made it very clear my view of that. Hamish has paid an extraordinary price for passing that information on. And now of course, Michael Heron will have his conversations with those two people...
Media: Was Michelle Boag a source for Michael Woodhouse? Have you spoken to him?
Muller: No. Look, again, I don't really understand where you are going with this. We've had a situation over the last 48 hours. It is very clear that I think it was totally inappropriate what occurred and Hamish Walker has now paid the price in terms of a political career and Michelle Boag has resigned from all roles in the National Party and has confirmed publicly that she has had a single engagement with Hamish Walker over it and now is co-operating and is working through with Michael Heron so from my perspective that is the issue ...
Media: I just want to get clarity about what exactly you have said to MPs about that privacy leak. So have you checked with Woodhouse specifically whether he received that same information from Boag?
Muller: Ah no.
Media: Why not?
Muller: Well because it's very clear from our perspective that there is a conversation that has occurred or a connection that's occurred between Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker.
Media: So you don't know whether other MPs in your party have access to that information because you haven't checked. Is that accurate?
Muller: No, we've got a scenario here where from our perspective we are confident that from what we can see that the issue here relates to Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker.
Media: What gives you that confidence because you've just said you haven't checked.
Muller: Yeah but from our perspective, the issue is what was done with the information and clearly it was an issue from our perspective that was unacceptable and you've heard very clearly from the participants that the issue was between Michelle Boag and Hamish Walker.