Embattled Cabinet minister Trevor Mallard is vowing to get help to manage his anger, saying he has to learn "not to retaliate".
Prime Minister Helen Clark again refused to comment on Mr Mallard's political future yesterday, giving no indication of whether he would be demoted in today's Cabinet reshuffle.
But she said she had spoken to Mr Mallard after his fist-fight in Parliament with National MP Tau Henare and encouraged him to get professional help.
Mr Mallard said he had taken the advice on board. "I do have to learn not to retaliate and I'm going to get support to do that," he said. The two were in Tauranga for a regional economic forum, with other Cabinet ministers and Bay of Plenty business leaders.
Mr Mallard, ranked seventh in the Cabinet, refused to comment on whether he was preparing for a demotion today, saying: "That is something for the Prime Minister to decide."
He also refused to say whether anger-management counselling was punishment enough for his actions, or what he expected to get out of such counselling.
Helen Clark told reporters that rather than reaching the decision to get counselling himself, Mr Mallard had acted on her advice.
"I think when one has a stressful time in one's life, that's always a good thing to do and he's very happy with that."
She believed the public would not see the move as a token gesture. "I think it's setting a good example, that where something's gone wrong like this that people look at how it's best to deal with it, and I think we can get a very positive message about how to deal with something unfortunate from this."
Helen Clark again refused to be drawn on whether Mr Mallard would lose his ministerial posts, saying, "I'll be making all my decisions tomorrow".
The Prime Minister spoke after opening a new hangar for the TrustPower TECT Rescue Helicopter at Tauranga Hospital.