Supporters of David Cunliffe are being blamed for leaking a breakdown of how unions and party members voted in last year's Labour leadership election in an apparent bid to highlight how strongly Mr Cunliffe was preferred over Grant Robertson.

The internal paper was only sent to members on Labour's ruling Council - but was leaked to a media outlet this morning.

It showed Mr Cunliffe secured more than double the number of votes from members than Mr Roberston and Mr Robertson languished far behind Mr Cunliffe among union delegates - getting no votes at all from two of Labour's six affiliated unions.

Labour's general secretary Tim Barnett said he did not know who had leaked the numbers and refused to provide the figures when asked, but said the numbers had only been circulated to NZ Council members. There are 19 members on that council as well as three non-voting MPs, including the leader.

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Robertson supporters suspected the timing of the release was a positioning move from Mr Cunliffe's camp aimed at discrediting Mr Robertson's claim for the job. The numbers show why the Robertson camp is so keen to avoid a party-wide contest and its leaking could be a push back at moves from the Robertson camp to try to ensure he is installed unopposed.

Mr Robertson has refused to speak publicly since the party's caucus meeting on Tuesday. He issued a statement this morning saying he respected Mr Cunliffe's announcement that he was taking time to reflect and take soundings in light of the election result and discussions at Caucus on Tuesday.

"Like all MPs and members of the Party I am doing the same. In the meantime my only other comment is to say that I fully support the processes that the Party has in place to deal with these issues."

Although the percentage of votes for each candidate was released at the time, this is the first time the actual numbers have been - partly because they indicate the party's total membership numbers which are usually a closely held secret. It is unknown how many members did not vote so are not included.

The party has said it doubled its membership numbers over that period - but the cut-off for those who could vote was just a few days after the leadership contest was called.

The numbers reported by Fairfax Media showed Mr Cunliffe secured the support of 3,243 party members to Mr Robertson's 1440. The other contestant Shane Jones picked up 709.

UNION SUPPORT BY THE NUMBERS

The union breakdown was as follows:

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EPMU:

Cunliffe got 25 delegates, Mr Robertson 8 and Mr Jones 2.

Dairy Workers' Union: Cunliffe got 33, Jones six, and zero for Mr Robertson.

Maritime Union:

15 for Cunliffe, one for Jones and zero for Mr Robertson.

Meatworkers' Union: 22 for Cunliffe, six for Jones and one for Robertson.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union: 18 for Cunliffe, three for Robertson and two for Jones.

Service and Food Workers' Unon: (vote was by individual members rather than delegates): 254 for Cunliffe, 177 for Robertson and 66 for Jones.

Mr Robertson got the support of 16 of Labour's 34 MPs at the time, while Mr Cunliffe and Shane Jones got 11 apiece in the first count.