Winston Peters defends Jacinda Ardern amid questions over her trust in him

Winston Peters is defending Jacinda Ardern after the Prime Minister refused to say she trusted her Deputy Prime Minister during her Monday post-Cabinet press conference. 

The Prime Minister said she wants a full independent look at political donation laws after it was revealed police had referred an investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation to the Serious Fraud Office.

When Newshub asked if she trusted Winston Peters, she wouldn't say "yes" or "no" instead replying, "We have an excellent working relationship". 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told Magic Talk on Tuesday he took no issues with the Prime Minister refusing to say she trusts him and that he was pleased with her response.  

"The Prime Minister said that we have a very sound, stable working relationship leading to the political stability of this country... That's all I wanted her to say. I didn't ask her to say it, but I'm pleased she said it."

Magic Talk host Peter Williams asked Peters: "If the Prime Minister can't say that she trusts you, how can the public trust you?"

Peters responded: "I find that a very offensive statement, Mr Williams. I mean, how can the public trust you? I've never had the impetus to say something like that.

"The next question is, oh so you trust this Cabinet minister or that Cabinet minister? Do you trust your colleagues in caucus? Where does this all stop?" 

The Prime Minister changed tack on Tuesday morning and told reporters in Parliament she does trust her Deputy Prime Minister and that she thought she had been "implicit" on Monday.

"I couldn't operate this Government without a trusting relationship with Winston Peters and that is at the core of why we've been able to run that strong, stable Government - because of that trusting relationship," Ardern said.

She said issues around the New Zealand First Foundation do not undermine the integrity of the Government, because the Serious Fraud Office has not yet announced if it will investigate.

"Firstly, I'd say that's pre-empting the outcome. Secondly, it's also assuming that those who may be found to be involved are directly involved with the operation of the Government.

"Neither of those things have been determined yet so let's not get ahead of ourselves - let it run its course, let the right people in the right agencies investigate, and then go from there."

It follows reports last year from Stuff that the New Zealand First Foundation was a slush fund which received more than half a million dollars in donations.

Money was allegedly spent on party expenses like the party HQ, hiring boxer Joseph Parker for a party conference and legal advice for an MP.

Peters has repeatedly denied the claims labelling them "fake news".

He told Magic Talk: "Let's have this matter sorted out by the legal authorities and alongside the legal opinions of this country or the law of this country.

Peters added, "Remember, I'm not being investigated here, nor is New Zealand First. It is the New Zealand First Foundation."

The Electoral Commission looked into the New Zealand First allegations and on Monday said it formed the view that the foundation received donations which should have been treated as party donations.

Peters described it as a "very damning statement for the Electoral Commission because they've passed a legal opinion without having the evidence or the proof".

He added, "What happened to the old concept... you're innocent until proven guilty?"