Dr Ashley Bloomfield has thanked generous Kiwis who contributed to buying him flowers after a video of the Health Minister throwing blame onto him for recent border blunders went viral.
Last week, Newshub captured the awkward moment Dr David Clark deflected responsibility for border botch-ups and said Dr Bloomfield was taking the blame, as the Director-General stood silently behind him. The footage went viral and added to growing calls for the Health Minister to resign.
Many Kiwis on social media expressed outrage at Dr Clark for not taking any responsibility himself and felt sorry for Dr Bloomfield, who has been near-universally praised for his role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Bloomfield previously took responsibility for the gaps in implementing testing at the facilities.
A fundraiser to buy Dr Bloomfield flowers was started, with excess money donated to charity.
The Aunties, a charity which supports women who have experienced violence, tweeted on Monday that it had received $1284, which went towards four personal safety alarms.
But Dr Bloomfield still received some flowers - as well some cupcakes.
"I did get some flowers, very nice. I want to thank those who sent them. A family sent me some cupcakes as well and I think there was some money raised, which I am really thrilled to see has gone to a charity to protect women from domestic violence," he said.
"Really pleased to see that has happened and appreciate people's support, not just for me, but for our team here in the ministry that continues to work really hard to protect them."
Questioned over his relationship with Dr Clark, Dr Bloomfield said they worked closely together.
"I have since I started in the role two years ago. I have been a public servant for quite a while, worked with eight different ministers and we continue to work really closely."
The Health Minister's treatment of the Director-General received fierce criticism, including from left-leaning political commentator Chris Trotter.
"I thought the behaviour of David Clark in relation to Ashley Bloomfield was just shameful, absolutely shameful. I am sorry Jacinda, but if you let that stand for the next 24 hours, then it's going to come back on you, because a person like that should not be in his job."
The viral video came after it emerged two women had been released from managed isolation early without being tested. They later went on to test positive for COVID-19. The Ministry of Health says about 50 people left isolation early without a test between June 9 and 16.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the pair got along "absolutely fine".
"Both of them, I think, feel like they have both been really let down. I have seen some of that portrayal. I don't think it's particularly fair. They get on well."