Commissioner silent on Haumaha posting
Police Commissioner Mike Bush continues to have confidence in Wally Haumaha, though he will not be drawn on any questions about the inquiries into his controversial appointment as Deputy Commissioner.
Police top brass were grilled yesterday by MPs on the justice select committee during an at-times heated hearing, as National MPs sought answers from Bush about Haumaha’s controversial comments and allegations of bullying against him.
An inquiry, completed by Mary Scholtens QC, has been handed to the Government and looked at the process leading up to Haumaha’s appointment — but is yet to be publicly released.
The Scholtens inquiry was announced after the Herald revealed comments made by Haumaha during the Operation Austin probe into police culture in 2004, which followed rape allegations by Louise Nicholas.
Haumaha was friends with
Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and Clint Rickards, who Nicholas accused of rape.
They claimed the group sex with Nicholas was consensual and were found not guilty at the 2006 trial but the jury was unaware Shipton and Schollum were already in prison on other rape charges.
Haumaha was interviewed for Operation Austin and spoke highly of his friends, describing Shipton as a “softie” and Schollum as a “legend” with women.
He also described Nicholas’ allegations as “a nonsense” and that “nothing really happened and we have to stick together”.
At the committee, Bush repeatedly refused to answer questions about Haumaha.
National MP Chris Bishop asked if the appointment was a risk to the progress police had made.
“Did you know about those comments when Mr Haumaha was being promoted from assistant to deputy commissioner?
“Do you accept that it is a reasonable response for people to worry about the culture of police with the second in command . . . being on the record so publicly having said those remarks?”
Bush replied that he did not want to answer before the inquiry is released, adding his assurance that police will continue to make progress and that “we are now in a really good space”.
National MP Nick Smith said Labour MPs had blocked a motion to postpone the hearing until after the inquiry was released, saying it was “cynical manipulation by the police and the Government”.
Labour MPs said they wanted to call Bush back to the committee after the inquiry was released — if appropriate.
Smith said Haumaha’s comments had prompted Nicholas to doubt how much police culture had improved.
“She has said publicly the appointment to Deputy Commissioner has undermined confidence that police has actually moved forward. Why should we have confidence when Louise Nicholas doesn’t?”
Bush said the public can have confidence in the health of police culture, and he remained committed to ensuring progress.