Stuart Nash knocked down on fourth strike - and it looks likely he will be gone come October

The Prime Minister has announced an investigation into sacked minister Stuart Nash, who has decided to stay on as Napier's MP, for now.

The Opposition is crying cover-up after it was revealed Nash's email leaking Cabinet discussions to his donors was flagged with the Prime Minister's Office two years ago.

Nash turned up to Parliament on Wednesday, but turned away from scrutiny when approached by Newshub's camera.

He told Newshub "no comment" on Wednesday afternoon when asked whether he will stand down from Parliament. 

The embattled minister's time was called by his boss on Tuesday night. 

"I have advised the Governor-General to dismiss Stuart Nash from all of his ministerial portfolios," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

That came after he learned Nash had leaked and criticised a Cabinet decision of a corporate rent relief package to businessmen Troy Bowker and Greg Loveridge. Both men had donated to Nash in the past. 

There were only two words: "Utterly unacceptable."

He was utterly let down.

"I've worked with Stuart for a long time. I'm absolutely gutted, to be frank," Hipkins said.

Nash wouldn't say why he released confidential information.

"Like I said guys, no comment."

He was leaving it to the Prime Minister to clean up. Hipkins on Wednesday announced a review into all of Nash's communications with all of his donors. 

"Stuart has advised me that he will fully cooperate with that review," said Hipkins.

In the email to his donors, Nash said: "I am as annoyed and surprised about the final outcome of the commercial rent package as you are… I should have argued much harder."

Hipkins said the verdict on that was delivered on Tuesday night. 

But a review of the Prime Minister's Office has already turned up an uncomfortable verdict of its own. 

The Prime Minister's Office already knew about this email. It came up during an Official Information Act request in 2021. The Prime Minister's Office ordered it out of scope.

Hipkins said neither Jacinda Ardern nor her chief of staff were made aware at the time. 

He said he can't speak to why it wasn't flagged up at the time. 

But National leader Christopher Luxon questioned "what kind of culture" there is in the Prime Minister's Office "if you don't actually flag those issues up the chain". 

Luxon said it's a "cover-up". 

But Hipkins said: "I don't think it was tried to be covered up."

"My understanding is it just wasn't within the scope of the request."

This was Nash's fourth strike. 

His first was contacting Police Commissioner Andrew Coster about a court case.

Coster finally fronted on that on Wednesday and said there might be more.

"I have, I suppose, flagged the potential for there to be further conversation on that."

But strike four or strike one, this was it for Nash. 

The Prime Minister said on Tuesday night this single offence was sackable in its own right. 

"He didn't put up a defence. He accepted the seriousness of the situation. He offered his resignation. I did not accept it. I indicated to him I was going to dismiss him."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants Nash to get a "fair go in this circumstance when all the vultures are standing around with this holier than thou attitude".

In a Facebook post, Nash apologised and said: "I do want to be clear: I got this wrong. Too many times. Fair cop. The Prime Minister did what he needed to do. I accept this with humility."

He told the people of Napier, "for now, I will continue to be your local MP" and confirmed "there will be no unnecessary, messy and expensive by-election – this is the last thing our city needs".

But it doesn't say if he'll retire at the election.

Napier constituents Newshub spoke to were split on whether he should stay or go.

One in particular, National's Napier candidate, wants him gone.

"This is a distraction for Napier that we don't need. We have got some major issues and you can see that here," said Katie Nimon.

Asked if there is anything else he has done wrong, Nash didn't reply. 

Newshub understands Nash will give it the week to make up his mind on whether he'll close the door on politics for good. 

Jenna Lynch Analysis

I've spoken to Nash on the phone today. He's pretty gutted and says he didn't have any ill intent.

His colleagues are feeling the same. They think these were dumb mistakes rather than underhand tactics.

Nash wants to head back to the Bay and get his head around things, talk to his family, and talk to his electorate staff before deciding his future, or probably more accurately, announcing his future.

The decision feels pretty made - he's gonna be gone come October. 

On the suggestion that he could cause trouble on the way out or try and stand for another party, Nash really isn't in the same league as a Gaurav Sharma for instance.

He's the great-grandson of former Labour Prime Minister Walter Nash, proud of the Nash name and proud of his connection to the Labour Party.

While he might go out with a few more notches against his name if this review turns up more of the pattern of behaviour we've already seen, it's not really in his nature to go down in a blaze of glory.