New Zealand First leader Winston Peters managed to avoid answering questions about a potential Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe of the NZ First Foundation by arriving uncharacteristically early to his caucus meeting this morning.

His MPs also closed ranks ahead of their weekly caucus meeting, opting not to comment on the looming SFO saga.

Peters arrived at the NZ First weekly caucus meeting uncharacteristically early this morning, while press gallery reporters were questioning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on her way into meeting with Labour MPs.

But a spokesman for Peters said he will be available for comment just before the House starts sitting this afternoon.

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Focus: MP’s tight lipped before SFO assessment on whether or not it will investigate NZ First undeclared donations. Video / Mark Mitchell

Peters would, however, welcome Ardern's vote of trust in him this morning, after she failed to explicitly say she trusted him at post-cab yesterday.

"I couldn't operate this Government without a trusting relationship with Winston Peters, and that is at the core of why we've been able to run that strong, stable Government because of that trusting relationship," she told reporters this morning.

Asked why she didn't say that yesterday, Ardern said: "I thought it was implicit in what I said."

A spokesman for the SFO it expects to receive a referral from Police in relation to the New Zealand First Foundation and would be "assessing the matter".

In other words, a decision as to whether or not the SFO would investigate the foundation will be made in due course.

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In the meantime, NZ First MPs were not giving much away.

They are all back at Parliament today for the first sitting day of the year and will formally meet as a caucus for the first time this morning.

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But coming into Parliament this morning, none spoken to by media would comment in detail about the saga.

Asked if Peters would survive the saga, Shane Jones, Regional Economic Development Minister said: "He is like Tāne Mahuta" - an apparent reference to the famous tree in Northland, which is estimated to be between 1250 and 2500 years' old.

He added that he had "no concerns whatsoever" about the possible SFO probe.

Senior NZ First MP and Minister Tracey Martin wouldn't go into much detail, other than to say she was not worried about a potential probe into the NZ First Foundation.

"I was here in 2008 and we were cleared, remember?"

In 2008, Peters – then Minister of Foreign Affairs – stood aside as the SFO investigated issues to do with party donations.

The SFO said at the time it had no basis for fraud charges to be laid, but questioned remained about possible breaches of electoral law over the non-disclosure of donations.

Martin went on to say she has had "nothing to do with this" when asked about the recent NZ First Foundation saga.

"So from my perspective, it's a process, they will go through it, I'll keep doing my job until they finish their process."

Senior NZ First MP and Minister Tracey Martin wouldn't go into much detail, other than to say she was not worried about a potential probe into the NZ First Foundation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Senior NZ First MP and Minister Tracey Martin wouldn't go into much detail, other than to say she was not worried about a potential probe into the NZ First Foundation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Late last year, Stuff reported that the NZ First Foundation appeared to have hidden political donations worth almost half a million dollars between April 2017 and March last year.

Many of these apparent donations to the foundation did not appear on the party's electoral returns.

The Electoral Commission said at the time it was looking into the matter.

Yesterday, the commission said it was referring the matter to the Police; the Police said they were referring the matter to the SFO.

In response to this, Peters said the party would review the way it handles its party donations.

After for details of this review, Martin said she did not know.

"I am no longer the deputy leader or at that level of the party."

NZ First's deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau would not comment when asked about a potential SFO probe.

Neither would MP Mark Patterson.

But Jones told the Herald earlier this morning: "We're in a process and it's a statutory process."

Shane Jones, Regional Economic Development Minister, told the Herald:
Shane Jones, Regional Economic Development Minister, told the Herald: "We're in a process and it's a statutory process". Photo / Michael Cunningham

"The SFO are now engaged, it's a statutory process so that has a life of its own.

"I'm not possessed of any information or knowledge about how the party and the President might review the treatment of donations."

He said New Zealand First would work with the "keepers of the process".

Jones said how the party planned to change the way it handles party donations is a matter for the NZ First President.