Prime Minister John Key has apologised for any offence caused by remarks he made about older New Zealanders in an election campaign conversation he did not know was being recorded.
The so-called teapot tape, made during a meeting at an Auckland cafe between Mr Key and then ACT Party candidate John Banks, has now been leaked on the internet.
The meeting at Urban Cafe in Newmarket in the Epsom electorate on 11 November was widely viewed as a signal to National supporters that they should vote for Mr Banks.[image:3835:full]
The contents of the recording confirm speculation that the two men discussed the chances of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters getting back into parliament and that Mr Key told Mr Banks Mr Peter's constituents were dying off.
Mr Key says it is simply a statement of fact that Mr Peter's base has typically been represented by older New Zealanders.
The Prime Minister laid a complaint with police over the secret recording, which happened in the run up to the general election last year.
It has never been released to the public, however the full 10-minute conversation was posted anonymously on YouTube on Thursday morning.
It confirms speculation Mr Key and Mr Banks discussed the ACT Party leadership and discussed the chances of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters of getting back into Parliament.
Mr Key said on Thursday that whoever has released the recording may be in breach of the law, although he did not think he would ask YouTube to take it down.
The recording published on YouTube starts with an image referring to the Occupy Aotearoa protest.
Police in Auckland say they will take the leaking of the conversation into account as part of their investigation.
They reiterate it is an offence to disclose private communications that have been unlawfully intercepted.
The Attorney General is seeking costs from cameraman Bradley Ambrose, who made the recording.
PM should withdraw complaint - Peters
Winston Peters says now that the tape has been leaked, Mr Key should withdraw the complaint and stop wasting police time.
A media commentator says now the contents of the recording have been made public he is amazed it ever caused such a stir.
Russell Brown uploaded the audio on to his blogsite Public Address after it was published on YouTube.
Mr Brown says the Prime Minister's decision to get the police involved over the recording of a mildly embarrassing conversation was over the top.
He also says he doubts whether releasing the tape during the election campaign would have made a difference to the National Party's chances.
Meanwhile, police are still seeking witnesses as they continue their investigation into tape.
They want to hear from four women and two men they believe were present in the cafe during the meeting.