N Zealand's first Asian-origin MP quits over scandal: PM

Shanghai-born Pansy Wong, who held the ethnic and women's affairs portfolios, handed in her resignation after it emerged she used a a trip to China with her husband in 2008 for business purposes, Key said.

"On the face of it, this is a breach of travel entitlement rules and Mrs Wong has been unable to assure me it is a one-off breach," he said in a statement. "I expect high standards from my ministers, and I believe that Mrs Wong has taken the appropriate step in resigning."

Under parliamentary rules, long-serving politicians receive subsidies of up to 90 per cent on their travel but the trips cannot be used to conduct business. Reports said that while in China, Wong signed off on a business deal involving her husband Sammy and a hovercraft company that later turned sour.

Wong said she had a duty to meet the high standards expected of ministers in Key's conservative government. "As a member of parliament it is my responsibility to ensure that the travel entitlement is used within the rules and that does not appear to be the case on this occasion," Wong said in a statement.

"Given that, the appropriate and honourable thing to do is to offer my resignation to the Prime Minister. He has been gracious enough to accept it." Wong, who was raised in Hong Kong and moved to New Zealand in 1974, became the country's first Asian member of parliament in 1996. "It is beyond my wildest dreams that a baby girl born in Shanghai, China, grew up in a Hong Kong apartment where eight families shared a single kitchen and bathroom to be New Zealand's ... first cabinet minister of Chinese and Asian ethnicity," she said.

Key, who is in Japan for for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, said parliament was investigating Wong's use of travel entitlements. "I am extremely disappointed to lose a minister who has been an effective and hard-working representative for the ethnic community and New Zealand," he said.

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