The bungles which led to the resignation of Health Minister David Clark

David Clark has officially resigned as Health Minister following weeks of speculation over whether he was fit to be in the role.

In a press conference on Thursday, Clark said it had become "increasingly clear" that his continuation in the role was "distracting from the Government's overall response to COVID-19".

But what distractions did Clark mean?

The MP’s woes began during the level four COVID-19 lockdown.

On April 2 most of New Zealand was obeying stringent conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Shops were closed, surfing and other sports were discouraged and New Zealanders were staying in their homes. 

But David Clark drove more than two kilometres in order to visit a mountain bike track. His van, emblazoned with a picture of his face, was snapped by a member of the public in the car park of the track.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was less than impressed, saying it was her expectation that ministers set the standards.

"People can go outside to get fresh air and drive short distances if needed, but we have asked people to avoid activities where there is a higher risk of injury, and the minister should have followed that guidance," she said.

Days later on April 6 Clark came clean and admitted he had also driven more than 20km to visit a beach with his family, in direct violation of the expectation New Zealanders would stay at home, or within walking distance of their home.

He offered his resignation, but due to the pandemic the Prime Minister did not accept it.

 Despite declining his resignation Ardern was furious.

"Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses," she said in a statement.

The COVID-19 crisis saved Clark's job - at least for a while. 

"My priority is our collective fight against COVID-19. We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dr Clark will maintain his role."


Although he remained Health Minister, Clark was demoted to the bottom of Cabinet and stripped of his portfolio as associate finance minister.

But his bad behaviour wasn't over - on April 28 Newshub revealed Clark had moved house during lockdown - another thing Kiwis were told they could not do.

The Government's COVID-19 website stated: "Many New Zealanders in the process of buying and selling a house will be affected by the response to COVID-19. For example, the requirements of Alert Level 4 mean that people can't move into or out of their houses." 

Clark defended his decision saying the move was "something that was needed for the sake of my household" and that he continued to use his previous residence as an office.

For almost two months Clark flew under the radar - but his final controversy came on June 24 when he appeared to throw Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield under the bus - while Bloomfield stood dutifully behind him.

Clark was asked if he took responsibility for the COVID-19 managed isolation bungles which allowed hundreds of people to leave isolation without being tested for coronavirus. 

"The Director-General has accepted that protocols weren't being followed. He has accepted responsibility for that and has set about putting it right," said Clark.

Newshub footage showed Dr Bloomfield's crestfallen face as Clark shifted responsibility for the mistake squarely on to his shoulders.

Newshub asked Clark why he won't take some of the responsibility.

"The Director-General has already acknowledged that the system didn't deliver here."

Finally on July 2 Clark's transgressions caught up with him and he announced the Prime Minister had now accepted his resignation. 

"Serving as Minister of Health has been an absolute privilege, particularly through these last few months," Dr Clark said on Thursday. "It's no secret that health is a challenging portfolio. I have given it my all."