Simon Bridges has vehemently defended his comments about Asian party candidates, and labelled the National Party a "trailblazer" for ethnic communities.
Speaking at the Auckland Diwali Festival to a crowd from the Indian community, the National Party leader was forced to confront allegations of racism and cash for candidates that came out in a phone recording released by rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross.
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On the audio Mr Ross argues "two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians", to which Mr Bridges replies "Yeah, which is what we have got at the moment".
Flanked by Asian National MPs Melissa Lee and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Mr Bridges said he had received a "fantastic" reception from the Indian community.
"What I think the Indian community understands, is that Nationals been a trailblazer for ethnic communities in New Zealand," he said.
Mr Bridges also said he had rung the Indian High Commissioner, who took aim at Mr Bridges' comments, calling them "shocking" and "inconsistent with NZ values", and reaffirmed National's support for the community.
Mr Bridges wouldn't be drawn on if the party was considering enacting the Waka Jumping legislation to force Mr Ross out of Parliament. On Friday evening, Mr Ross announced he wouldn't step down from his role as Botany MP.
Whether the party will hold an inquiry into Mr Ross' allegations was also up in the air.
"I'll tell you what I wanna do, and that's move on. So that National can get back to holding this Government to account," said Mr Bridges.
The National Party's Asian MPs have rallied around the leader; with Ms Lee saying Mr Bridges had her total support, and Parmjeet Parmer saying she had no concern.