National MP Sarah Dowie has spoken to media for the first time since being named by police in relation to a text sent from her phone to Jamie-Lee Ross.

Speaking to reporters before National's caucus retreat this morning, Dowie said she would not stand down while the investigation was underway.

"I am committed to the people of Invercargill, just as I always have [been]."

She would not comment on her affair with Ross.


"If there is a police investigation underway, it would be inappropriate for me to comment."

Sarah Dowie today at National's caucus retreat. Photo / Jason OXenham
Sarah Dowie today at National's caucus retreat. Photo / Jason OXenham

Late last month, the police revealed they were investigating a text message, allegedly sent from Dowie's phone to Ross which included the words "you deserve to die".

Dowie said police had not contacted her in relation to the inquiry.

Today is the first time Dowie has spoken publicly, after being named by police in relation to the text.

The text message raised questions over whether there was a breach of the Harmful Digital Communications Act – the law which regulated digital communications, including text messages, making it illegal to urge someone to self-harm.

Ross had previously named Dowie as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship with.

National leader Simon Bridges said the Dowie saga was not a distraction for the party.

"I think it's a tough time for her personally and I think everyone would understand that."

National Party leader Simon Bridges Bridges denied the Sara Dowie text message saga had brought National into disrepute.
National Party leader Simon Bridges Bridges denied the Sara Dowie text message saga had brought National into disrepute.

He said the party would be backing her.

"What she's got to do… is show the people of Invercargill what a champion she can be for that area."

Bridges denied the saga had brought National into disrepute, and added it was a "tough situation for her [Dowie]".

He said Dowie should not stand down during the police investigation into the alleged text, and added he had not considered that either.

"That would not be my practise. I don't think that has been the practise of other leaders either."

Bridges said he "doubted" his leadership would come up for discussion over the course of the caucus retreat.


He said he wouldn't expect to have been contacted by the police in regards to the investigation into the text sent to Ross.

He said he first learned about the text "well after" he had been dealing with disciplinary actions related to Ross.

When he first read it, he said he thought it was "regrettable" and "not something I would condone".

He said Dowie would remain National's spokesperson for conservation and there was no need for a byelection in Invercargill.

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett said National was just focused on getting on with the work it has planned.

She said she had no comments to make about the alleged relationship between Ross and Dowie.


"That was then and the context of what that was and not just about that, [it was] also about a whole range of other things – but that was last year and now we're going onto a new one [year]."

She said she did not make any comments she made about the saga last year.

She does not think Dowie should stand-down while the text message is being investigated.

Bennett also said she did not think there would be a by-election in Dowie's electorate of Invercargill.

She said the Dowie situation was not a distraction for the National Party.

Asked if Dowie's behavior had brought the National Party into disrepute, Bennett said no and added "she's fine".


Meanwhile. National MP Maggie Barry said Jami-Lee Ross would not be a distraction at the caucus meeting.

"Who's that? He's irrelevant. I won't be mentioning his name," Barry told reporters on her way into the Novotel.

She said she supported Dowie and did not believe she should stand down while police investigated the text.