Key, Parata disagree on Sir Wira Gardiner's health issues

Hekia Parata with her daughter and husband Sir Wira Gardiner
Hekia Parata with her daughter and husband Sir Wira Gardiner

John Key appears to have talked out of turn about the health of Hekia Parata's husband Sir Wira Gardiner.

Speaking on MoreFM this morning about Ms Parata's decision to retire from politics, the Prime Minister said: "Being Minister of Education is tough, that's the first thing, but it's not really about that because we could put her in another portfolio. But her husband Wira, Sir Wira Gardiner, who's a great man but he's in his early 70s, he's had a couple of health issues recently."

Mr Key told Si and Gary he thought Ms Parata wanted better work-life balance.

However, at yesterday's press conference Ms Parata was asked directly by Newshub whether health issues in her family played any part, and she responded: "No, other than having a spring cold at the moment, not at all".

This morning in Christchurch, Ms Parata has also told reporters she stands by her statement, saying: "I'm not sure why he thinks that's the case. I know my family and we don't have any health problems".

Ms Parata, 57, and Sir Wira, 71, have two teenage daughters together and three stepchildren from his first marriage to former MP Pauline Gardiner.

Sir Wira is a former Army Lieutenant-Colonel who led Kiwi soldiers in battle in the Vietnam War. He went on to become one of New Zealand's leading public servants, and is currently the chairman of Te Papa.

The Prime Minister is expected to be asked about the issue when he appears publicly on Thursday afternoon.