Former minister Stuart Nash says he will remain Napier MP 'for now' in Facebook post

Former minister Stuart Nash says he will remain Napier's local MP "for now" and in a Facebook post apologised for causing an "unwanted distraction" with his behaviour.

In the post on Wednesday afternoon, the sacked minister apologised to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Cabinet, his caucus colleagues, staff and Labour members "for letting them down and causing an unwanted distraction".

"To the people of Napier, whom it has been an absolute pleasure and privilege serving and representing in parliament, I also offer my apologies," he said. 

"For now, I will continue to be your local MP and will work hard to ensure you get everything you need and deserve in your journey of recovery after Cyclone Gabrielle."

Hipkins sacked Nash on Tuesday night after it emerged Nash had emailed two businesspeople - who were also donors - about Cabinet discussions on a commercial rent relief package in 2020. Cabinet conversations are meant to be confidential.

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday a review of all of Nash's communications with donors.

This will look at "whether there have been any other breaches of Cabinet collective responsibility or confidentiality, or whether there have been any perceived or actual conflicts of interest between Stuart Nash and those donors".

In his Facebook post, Nash admitted he "got this wrong".  

"Too many times. Fair cop. The Prime Minister did what he needed to do. I accept this with humility," he said.

"I have always considered the greatest challenge – but also the greatest opportunity – in politics is delivery. Execution. Getting stuff done and coming up with solutions to the issues of the day.  I tend to go hard when often a softer approach would perhaps deliver superior results over the longer term."

He said he "played outside the rules and that's unacceptable". 

"Never ever for personal gain, or to benefit anyone other than the people of NZ and my Napier constituents, but that doesn't matter in the end.  I let them down by not getting it right.

"My wife has often commented that I need to work on my EQ. She’s right, so it's time to take her very sage advice as I embark on the next phase of my journey.

"So now it's on to the next challenge. There will be no unnecessary, messy and expensive by-election - this is the last thing our city needs."

He said, "for the meantime I will remain as the MP for Napier". 

If Nash was to retire later in April, a by-election doesn't have to be held due to the proximity to the general election - but 75 percent of Parliament would have to agree.

Nash also sent an apology to his family in the social media post.

"These events after often more traumatic for our partners and children than they are for us; so, to Sarah and our wonderful children, I am truly sorry. You have supported me in good times and bad, and for this I am eternally grateful."

Hipkins told reporters that Nash has assured him he will fully cooperate with the review. An outcome is expected in the coming months, prior to the general election in October. 

"In recent weeks I had been given assurances from Stuart Nash that there were no other instances or allegations of misconduct that would be outside of Cabinet rules. Given yesterday's revelation, I feel it is important to verify this."

Hipkins has also revealed on Wednesday former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office knew of the email containing the sensitive information - but neither Ardern nor her Chief of Staff were aware.

He said the email came up amid consultation on an Official Information Act (OIA) request in 2021. It was found to be out of scope of the request, but the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was consulted by Nash's office.

It wasn't kicked up to the Prime Minister at the time or her Chief of Staff - but it went through the office.

"I have made it very clear to my office that I expect to be alerted about any such matters should they arise and should my office become aware of them," Hipkins said.

Newshub has obtained a copy of the email. It says: "I am as annoyed (and surprised) about the final outcome of the 'commercial rent relief package' as you are."

"I should have argued much harder for this when I saw that things were changing; but without the support I thought I had, it would have been incredibly difficult."

Earlier this month, Nash resigned as Police Minister after admitting he once rang the Police Commissioner to suggest he appeal a court judgement. That's a breach of the Cabinet Manual as ministers aren't meant to comment on or involve themselves in prosecutions or sentencing.

A day later, it emerged Nash had also once nearly faced a contempt charge after going on the radio and saying the killer of slain police officer Matthew Hunt should receive a lengthy sentence. The Solicitor-General ended up recommending the Attorney-General give Nash a telling-off.

But it didn't end there, with Prime Minister Hipkins then demoting Nash and placing him on a final warning after it came to light Nash had used inappropriate processes to advocate on an immigration case.