National MP Andrew Bayly has apologised to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta for getting her name wrong at the National Party's Northern Regional Conference earlier this year.
Bayly insists he wasn't trying to mock Mahuta, but simply to cover for the fact that he stumbled over her name by accident during the conference.
NZ Herald columnist Simon Wilson reported that Bayly, while running a session on infrastructure referred to Mahuta as "Nanaia, manna, nan, um, nanny, manny, man, oh dear, whatever".
He then joked "There's no media here, is there?"
Bayly doesn't deny he got Mahuta's name wrong, but he insists it wasn't malicious. On Tuesday, he left a message with her to apologise, and to gave his version of events.
"That's not my style," Bayly said.
Although he admitted he had stumbled over Mahuta's name, he said there was no intention to mock or make fun of her
"I didn't deliberately make fun of her name at all, I dispute that strongly," he said.
Bayly said Mahuta had subsequently texted him and was "very understanding".
"I've been in contact to clarify the situation to make clear that whilst I refute the claim, I have offered an apology," Bayly said.
Bayly said he gets on with Mahuta and that he'd recently sat down with Mahuta to talk about policy relating to Antarctica. Mahuta is minister in charge of Antarctica policy as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Bayly, who is well-known in passion for enjoying exploring, co-chairs the Antarctic Parliamentary Group.
The news comes as National faces allegations that it is pivoting rightwards on issues of race. Leader Judith Collins has alleged the Government's policy on things like co-governance will lead to separatism.
Stuff has also reported that former National leader Don Brash has been fundraising for the party.
As leader, Brash campaigned against what he alleged was special treatment for Māori.
He's a member of the Hobson's Pledge group, which has continued campaigns against alleged special treatment of Māori.
Mahuta's office has been approached for comment