Priem Minister Jacinda Ardern says she only saw a controversial 'gag order' email today.
On Friday, the government dumped a revealing mass of documents related to its response to the pandemic.
A leaked email, obtained by Newstalk ZB, shows ministers were told not to comment on the contents of hundreds of official documents.
When questioned by National on the email today, Ardern told Parliament she only saw the email this afternoon.
"I only saw the email in preparation for Question Time in anticipation that the member would be asking questions about it."
The exchange led to a brief clash between Speaker Trevor Mallard and National deputy leader Paula Bennett after Mallard told off "two senior members of the Opposition" for shouting over Ardern.
"I was not shouting her down," Bennet said in response.
After being told to withdraw and apologise, she did so "for arguing with you", aimed at Mallard, forcing a second withdrawal and apology.
Earlier, Ardern told Mike Hosking that the email used language that she would not have used.
"I would not have used the language in that email. A staff member wrote the email. Never saw it. Never signed it off."