Labour Party leader Phil Goff says John Key should concentrate on the Government's response to the Rena disaster, rather than taking petty pot shots at him.
The Prime Minister criticised Mr Goff's efforts after the publication of photos of him helping to clean Papamoa beach fouled by oil after the container ship grounded off Tauranga on 5 October.
Mr Key says he does not think Mr Goff wandering round with a bucket and spade will fix the problem.
But Mr Goff says he was invited by locals to give them a hand and is proud to have helped.
He believes Mr Key has not been hands-on enough in dealing with the crisis.
"I'm sure I saw him down in (earthquake-hit) Christchurch holding a shovel in front of some liquefaction for at least five seconds.
"What I might have expected of him was not to freeze the funds for Maritime New Zealand when they're dealing with important safety issues and to make sure that we got the fastest possible and an effective response to a disaster that should not have happened."