The senior politician who left a 17-year-old girl in tears after interrupting her Youth Parliament speech about a friend's suicide says she wants to own up to the mistake.

And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also weighed in, calling the incident "unfortunate".

Lily Dorrance, from Christchurch, was left humiliated and crying after being told off by National's Anne Tolley for reading her speech in Parliament's debating chamber.

Wellington this week hosted the Youth Parliament, which every three years brings together teenagers from around the country to try their hand at being MPs, including by speaking in the House in front of cameras.


Dorrance was hoping to use a personal story to discuss the issue of youth suicide and mental health funding, when Tolley told her to put her notes away and "tell us what you think we need".

"When she interrupted me it was awful," Dorrance told the Herald.

"As soon as I sat down I burst into tears and had to leave … It was just humiliating."

Tolley on Thursday told Newstalk ZB she had sent staff to check on Dorrance straight after the incident, before leaving the debating chamber herself.

"I never intended to upset her, and I'm just so sorry if I really upset her," she said.

"It's a wonderful experience to come to Parliament and be Youth MP and I hope that I haven't ruined it for her."

Tolley, Parliament's Deputy Speaker, admitted she had made a mistake in how she handled the situation and wanted to own up to it.

But she said she would still be talking to organisers of the event to see if they could help the Youth MPs prepare to speak without notes.


"It's a skill you need to learn, I understand that," she said.

Dorrance said she had been told prior to her delivery that she could read from her notes and had not made a public speech in about five years.

But she accepted Tolley's apology.

"I do. I just think she needs to know that not all of us are public speakers," she told Newstalk ZB.

"I just hope that my message is listened to and that MPs aren't more concerned about rules and protocols and actually care about our views."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Australia on a diplomatic visit, told reporters she was surprised the Youth MPs had been asked to talk without notes.

"Obviously that's a rule that exists in Parliament but it's not a rule I expected to carry over into a Youth Parliament," she said.

"This is an incredibly big moment for these young people ... I think it's unfortunate."

Ardern said she could not judge the situation.

"But I hope Lily is doing okay," she said.

Dorrance, who left high school two weeks ago to start a midwifery course, told the Herald she had been crushed that Tolley had suggested she was not speaking from the heart.

In an earlier statement, Tolley said she felt "terrible" about the incident and had apologised to Dorrance and Parliament's Speaker, Trevor Mallard.

"I was trying to get them to speak 'from' their notes rather than just 'read' them in the General Debate," she said.

Other teens present also came to Dorrance's defence on Wednesday.

"The behaviour of Anne Tolley in the House right now is utterly disgusting. [Interrupting] a young girl talking about her friend's suicide while reading from a speech, demanding her to talk without notes. Shutting down points of order, and ignoring the concerns of YMPs. Awful," Ethan Griffiths tweeted.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline : 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline : 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youthline : 0800 376 633

• Kidsline : 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup : 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)

• Depression helpline : 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

• Rainbow Youth : (09) 376 4155

• Samaritans 0800 726 666

• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.