Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not have used the word "embarrassing" to describe the "private" health issue that led to National MP Jami-Lee Ross' taking leave from Parliament.
National Party leader Simon Bridges said he would not comment on the nature on the health issue, but used the word 'embarrassing' several times during a press conference on Tuesday, saying the private health issue is "perhaps actually embarrassing. A lot embarrassing, potentially."
Mr Bridges walked back his description later in the stand up, when asked why he'd used the word several times.
"Maybe that's not the right word. We all have our own views on these things, actually it's not really for me to characterise it," Mr Bridges said.
Ms Ardern said all she can do "is wish Jami-Lee Ross well", when asked for comment on Wednesday morning.
When asked whether she would have used the word embarrassing, Ms Ardern said, "No, I wouldn't."
The Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said on The AM Show the National leader "chose a word unwisely," adding his use of the word "embarrassing" does not specifically reveal the nature of Mr Ross' condition.
Mr Bridges says Mr Ross' leave is not related to the investigation into the leaking of his expenses. The investigation is ongoing - data has been collected from National MPs' devices, but a report is not expected for several weeks.
Fellow National MP Paula Bennett said it was a "traumatic and hard time" for Mr Ross.