David Clark 'very keen' to stay as Health Minister - but voters want him gone

David Clark is "very keen" to stay on as Health Minister should Labour win the upcoming election, despite voters wanting him gone.

He kept a relatively low profile through the COVID-19 lockdown, leaving the day-to-day media handling of the crisis to Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. 

Dr Clark's biggest headlines during the lockdown came thanks to his breaches of the rules - including going mountain biking and driving 20km to a beach. 

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, voters were asked whether Dr Clark should remain Health Minister. More than half - 56.8 percent - said no, with only 35.7 percent saying yes.

Even Labour voters were split - 47.5 percent saying no, 43 percent yes.

Dr Clark told Newshub Nation on Saturday the poll was taken "a month ago" and he's been "working hard to regain the trust of New Zealanders" since his mistakes.

"Ultimately this decision rests with the Prime Minister," he told host Tova O'Brien.

"I will be working very hard in my portfolio because I believe that it's possible to make a difference in our health system. I've been very focused on addressing equity, rebuilding our public health services, addressing primary care and mental health, and I will continue to do that for as long as I have that responsibility."

David Clark.
David Clark. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in early April she would have sacked Dr Clark if the country wasn't in the grip of a pandemic. 

"I admitted that I got things wrong. I admitted my resignation to the Prime Minister," said Dr Clark. "My job now is to get on with things."

Despite his personal blunders, Dr Clark says the results of the COVID response - the apparent elimination of the virus from our shores - speak for themselves.