National leader Simon Bridges is rejecting any suggestion he pushed Jami-Lee Ross too far, saying he has done the right thing in "difficult circumstances".

But he conceded his handling of the saga had not been perfect, and announced a review to ensure the party had a culture where women felt safe.

Meanwhile Radio NZ reported that a text message, believed to be from a female MP, was sent to Ross in August and included the words: "You deserve to die."

A party spokesman declined to comment on the text.


National MPs presented a united front at Parliament yesterday, throwing their support behind Bridges' leadership in the wake of last week's bitter battle with Ross.

Ross has been in Middlemore Hospital's mental health ward since Sunday, and had improved enough yesterday to receive guests, according to a friend who did not want to be named.

"We're making sure he knows there are people out there who care about him," the friend said.

The friend said that Bridges was told not to push Ross too far when they met last week to discuss the PwC inquiry into Bridges' leaked travel expenses - but the advice was ignored.

Bridges pushed back on any suggestion he had acted inappropriately in light of Ross' health.

"I think I've done the right thing at every step of this, in difficult circumstances."

Asked about receiving advice from Ross' doctor, he said: "I have acted entirely consistent with the specialist medical advice at every step of this."

Ross said last week that he was healthy, and criticised Bridges and Bennett for talking about his mental health issues when his doctor had cleared him.


Bridges said he did not think the party had an unhealthy culture, even though he said in a recording that he could find 15 women who could accuse Ross of inappropriate behaviour.

That simply indicated issues around one person, Bridges said.

But he would consult Parliamentary Service and seek independent advice to ensure National was a safe place to work.

"A number of women have been affected here, so I'm going to talk to Parliamentary Service this week to make sure women feel absolutely safe in the workplace, and feel they can confidently come forward on all matters.

"I also want to make sure we are doing the same in the party in terms of volunteers, candidates, staff."

He said his handling of the saga had not been perfect, and he had spoken to deputy leader Paula Bennett about comments she made alluding to Ross' extra-marital affairs.

He added he was "incredibly unlikely" to invoke the waka-jumping law to force Ross from Parliament while Ross was unwell.

The whole episode exposed the National Party to accusations of a cash-for-candidates policy and covering up Ross' behaviour.

But party president Peter Goodfellow rejected that, saying he was only aware of National candidate Katrina Bungard's complaint, and both Ross and Bungard had wanted confidentiality.

He said the matter was dealt at the time and there was no reason to tell Bridges about it, even when Bridges promoted Ross to National's front bench.

Goodfellow said National seats were not for sale, though he confirmed Colin Zheng, one of the figures allegedly involved in the $100,000 donation to the party, was now at the party's candidates college for 2020.

"I've known him for some time. I think he's a good potential candidate for us," Goodfellow said.

National MPs stood behind Bridges yesterday.

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell said the caucus' support for Bridges was "unwavering".

He said he had met with Ross three weeks ago to ensure he was getting the proper support he needed.

"I didn't offer him anything other than support and to get well and to make sure he was focused on his own health."

List MP Brett Hudson said the events of last week showed the party's leadership and its caucus handled the situation "very well, given the information we had".