MPs trade slurs over blog ratings

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 17/10/2012
Richard Prosser
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
Richard Prosser of NZ First Party for the Waimakariri.
Denis O'Rourke
Port Hills list MP Denis O'Rourke.

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NZ First has been embroiled in infighting after a blog slammed the performance of some of its MPs, leaked party emails show.

Internal emails, passed on to The Press, have revealed discord within the party, with Christchurch MP Denis O'Rourke among those attacking their Whip and the party's board.

The emails relate to a post by website Kiwiblog that used a range of statistics to rank Opposition MPs.

The rankings placed Canterbury NZ First MPs O'Rourke and Richard Prosser in the bottom five for the third quarter of 2012, along with colleague Asenati Taylor.

NZ First Whip Barbara Stewart emailed the rankings to the caucus on October 4.

She said they showed "how others are judging you".

O'Rourke and former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams hit back, criticising the rankings and Stewart's decision to email them out.

O'Rourke said the rankings were "not even remotely interesting or relevant" and were "utter nonsense".

"I find it hard to believe that anyone with any brains would actually take any notice of a stupid Right-wing blog site," he said.

"If NZ First really thinks this nonsense is important then God help it."

Williams said Stewart's decision to place importance on the rankings was "a sad inditement [sic] on you as Whip and of this party".

"[Q]uite frankly I do not want to receive these 'nanny' type sermons from you. Have better things to do than be preached at."

In response, Stewart warned the MPs that their performance had been noticed by the NZ First board.

"The number of contributions or lack of - that you make . . . is also being noticed. A picture is being created about you!"

Williams told The Press he had sent the emails to point out that the rankings were "jolly ridiculous".

He did not have any concerns about the tone of his emails and did not believe they were offensive.

Stewart told The Press she had passed on the rankings so the party's MPs were aware of their existence.

"I do believe they have a right to know when something is written with their names in it."

Party president Kevin Gardener said the board did not monitor the Kiwiblog rankings, and defended the performance of the party's MPs.

"A lot of these guys are working in the background," he said.

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"They've got a lot of portfolios and are doing a lot of research, so you've got to give them a fair suck of the sav."

NZ First leader Winston Peters denied that the emails reflected any deeper tensions within the caucus and said he was not concerned about the relationship between his MPs.

"I am so pleased and delighted that you're so concerned about that, and the answer is that I'm very happy with everything," he said.

O'Rourke did not respond to a request for comment.

- The Press

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