Judith Collins is distancing herself from comments she made last year that Pike River Mine was an "inferno" and a "terrible mess" following four explosions in November 2010.
She was Police Minister at the time of the disaster, and discussed the state of the mine with Paul Henry during a National Party leadership bid on Dec 7 2016.
"I was then Minister of Police. I know about the infernos that were there and I know what happened. And I can tell you, it's just a terrible mess," she said.
Her comment was along the same lines as what other ministers and officials have always said about the state of the mine's interior - that an inferno ripped through the mine and reduced everything to dust.
But that image is in stark contrast to footage revealed by Newshub last night from inside the deepest part of the mine, which shows no sign of an inferno.
There's combustible material that hasn't burnt, including wooden pallets, rubber hoses, and a pair of glasses.
Asked on Monday by Newshub whether she stood by her comments, Ms Collins refused to answer, instead referring the matter to Prime Minister Bill English.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss the matter when it's with the Prime Minister," she said.
However, after several refusals, Ms Collins finally addressed the question.
"It's quite obvious there was [an inferno]. I think you need to realise Lloyd that there was actually a tremendous amount of explosions, and there was also smoke right up the chimney.
"That sounds to me like an inferno and I don't know how it would not be," she said.