Michael Wood shares scandal: Minister didn't offer to resign, says 'hitch' with 'old email' led to delay with sale

Under-fire minister Michael Wood says he didn't offered to resign his Transport portfolio but accepts Prime Minister Chris Hipkins' decision to stand him down from the role over the Auckland Airport shares shambles.

Wood fronted media after Hipkins stripped him of the role while issues with the minister's conflicts are resolved, saying he made a mistake and accepts the punishment.

"I think the decision the Prime Minister has made is the appropriate one," Wood told reporters. "I accept it with good grace. I made a mistake here. I accept that. That is on me and the appropriate thing that I do now is fix that."

It emerged earlier on Tuesday that Wood initially failed to declare with Parliament's pecuniary interest register that he held about $13,000 worth of shares in Auckland Airport. He eventually declared these appropriately last year, but didn't correct previous registers.

Wood said he did inform the Cabinet Office of the shares when he became a minister. But Hipkins said the Cabinet Office was also told Wood was selling his shares. As of Tuesday, that still hadn't happened.

The National Party argued it was a "clear conflict of interest" for the Minister of Transport to hold the shares. The Prime Minister on Tuesday afternoon stood Wood down as Transport Minister while issues around his conflicts were resolved.

Speaking to media, Wood said he never offered to resign but had a "constructive" conversation with the minister and acknowledged he had got things wrong. 

He admitted he should have corrected the earlier registers and completed the sale of the shares, a process which he began last year.

Wood said he was "enormously disappointed" to lose the portfolio, but accepts Hipkins' decision. He hopes to return to the portfolio once he has addressed the issues.

"I have to take my medicine around this and I have to put these two things right."

Wood said he took matters of transparency seriously.

"I feel annoyed with myself for having gotten these two things wrong and I accept I should put them right before I come back into the role."

He explained why that sale hadn't happened earlier.

"Bascially came across a hitch which is that I needed information back from the share register that didn't arrive I think because they had an old email address. 

"In the reality of the fairly busy life that I have, I didn't get back to it. That's not an excuse, that's the honest answer. I should have focused on that and gotten that job done and that's what I'll be doing now."

He said he had been working 80 to 90 hours a week and the sale "dropped off my radar".

"I should have followed it up and that's what I'll be doing."

Wood didn't put any timeline on that sale but would do it "as quickly as I can". 

He said he had previously engaged a broker to sell the shares, but wouldn't "throw blame on anyone else for this".

Hipkins said it was an "unacceptable situation" for Wood to find himself in and it was appropriate to stand him down while he resolved the conflict issues.

The Prime Minister said Wood said the reason he hadn't sold the shares was down to "life admin".

"He should have. It is important he does that now. I would have expected him to have dealt with it before."

National leader Christopher Luxon said we were "discussing another Labour personnel issue, another scandal".

The Government's had to deal with issues with other ministers like former Police Minister Stuart Nash, Education Minister Jan Tinetti, and the defection of Meka Whaitiri.

"I don't understand why Chris Hipkins has been so soft and weak," Luxon said.

The National leader said the Prime Minister should have acted when his office was told of the issue last week.

"We want a leader and a Prime Minister that's going to do the right thing, not wait until the media to actually make him do the right thing."

Hipkins said his office knew last week, but he wasn't informed until Monday.

"I've expressed some dissatisfaction with them about the amount of time that it took," Hipkins said. "But ultimately, my office was informed, therefore, I accept responsibility for the fact that my office was told on Friday."

It was put to Hipkins that his Government looks shaky with a number of ministerial problems.

"I don't agree," he said.

The Prime Minister said he had appointed Kieran McAnulty as the acting Minister of Transport while Wood sorted out his conflict issues.