Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern apologised to Act leader David Seymour in Parliament today for calling him an “arrogant prick”.
However, in response to a question from National Leader Christopher Luxon, Ardern confirmed that she stood by the remark - even though she had apologised for it.
Seymour had already accepted an earlier apology from Ardern on Tuesday, and appeared to accept the apology in the House today.
But it was a remark from Te Pāti Māori leader Rawiri Waititi that appeared to irk Seymour. Asking a question to Ardern, Waititi noted that he thought Ardern’s rude characterisation of Seymour was “correct”.
Making matters even more awkward is the fact that Waititi sits next to Seymour in the House. As Waititi took his seat and was reprimanded by the Speaker for the remarks, a solemn Seymour could be seen looking on.
The apology was thanks to a deft tactic Seymour played on Tuesday.
He did not hear Ardern mutter “arrogant prick” as she took her seat in Parliament after answering a question.
However, after Seymour was contacted by the Herald for comment about the remarks, which had been picked up on the House microphone and verified by the Herald, he raised a point of order in the House asking her to apologise.
Because Seymour addressed the original remark, Parliament rules required it to be included in Parliament’s written record, Hansard.
Had Seymour said nothing, the remark would have disappeared without a trace.
Ardern acknowledged that on Wednesday.
She rose to her feet at the start of Question Time.
“I’m aware that comments I made in the House yesterday in regards to the leader of the Act Party were recorded on the Hansard. On that basis, I wish to formally, in this House, withdraw and apologise for those comments, which I won’t repeat.” Ardern said.
Luxon followed Ardern’s apology with the first question of the day.
His question was a favourite of opposition politicians: does she “stand by all her statements and actions”.
Instead of answering in the usual way, by reciting a laundry list of Government accomplishments she stood by, Ardern followed with a joke at Seymour’s expense.
“Yes, Mr Speaker - insults and apologies,” she said.
Waititi followed Luxon, asking “does she stand by all her Government’s statements - even though yesterday’s one was a little bit true, and policies”.
The Government side of the chamber erupted in laughter, but Seymour was clearly not amused.