Judith Collins says she will never resign as leader and feels secure in her job despite low polling.
It comes after footage was sent to the New Zealand Herald showing the National Party leader and the party’s health spokesperson, Dr Shane Reti, ordering ice cream from a Queenstown cafe without masks.
“I could have kept my mask on for another one or two minutes,” Collins admitted.
“We'll certainly do it differently next time,” Reti said.
Collins had earlier criticised microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles, who she labelled a “big fat hypocrite” for visiting an Auckland beach, in Level 4 lockdown.
The leader of the opposition maintains she was not hypocritical in failing to wear a mask, however, saying, “What it does mean is that Level 2 and Level 4 are entirely different and the rules around Level 2 have been very unclear”.
Public relations consultant and former National government press secretary Ben Thomas says Collins "has allowed herself to be drawn into petty grudges, enmities, feuds, rather than concentrating on the big issues and so it's no surprise that she'll get tripped up by trivial technical problems like this".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was criticised for not socially distancing during last year’s re-election campaign.
For Collins, however, the distraction adds fuel to the leadership fire following poor polling results from the Taxpayers’ Union and Curia Market Research.
She says she’ll never resign, however.
“I feel very secure in it and I know the caucus is working very hard with a common goal of holding this Government to account,” she said.
Thomas says a change in leadership ahead of the election is “inevitable for National”.
“The only question is when and who - it's like a kind of game of Cluedo that we're previewing.”
Former National leader Simon Bridges says he is not planning to make a comeback after being rolled last year.
“I don't have any intention of seeking the leadership of the National Party. I think we've had one bad poll but you shouldn't overreact to that,” he said.
Botany MP Christopher Luxon backed his leader on Sunday, saying Collins is “stabilising” the party.
Other National MPs told 1News Collins still has time before any moves are made.