Of­fi­cial Whaitiri re­port re­leased

Rotorua Daily Post - - OUR PEOPLE -

con­nected to a friend of the staff mem­ber in­volved and made ref­er­ence to a “num­ber of se­ri­ous themes . . . it then goes on to link the al­leged ac­tion of the min­is­ter with this back­ground, say­ing things will not im­prove if [redacted].”

“The email in­cludes an ex­plicit threat . . . Given the tone and the con­tent of the email, in­clud­ing the black­mail threat; was Em­ployee A em­bar­rassed that the email had been sent? Did that af­fect what s/he said about the min­is­ter’s ac­tion?”

The let­ter goes on to say that the staff mem­ber, a press sec­re­tary re­ferred to as Em­ployee A, did not ini­ti­ate the com­plaint her­self, and that there was po­ten­tially a po­lit­i­cal el­e­ment to the mat­ter given the PM’s chief of staff was in­volved.

McKech­nie went on to say the staff mem­ber had been in the role only a short time, it was un­der­stood she had not worked in that role be­fore and it ap­peared she was “ill-equipped for the role and was not aware of a num­ber of fun­da­men­tal as­pects of it”.

Whaitiri’s lawyer was also con­cerned that the bruise on the staff mem­ber was small and had been de­scribed as “tiny” by Pat­ten in his in­ter­view with Whaitiri.

The bruise was not the shape ex­pected from a grab that was al­leged, the staff mem­ber was un­sure where it came from be­cause she didn’t no­tice un­til she was prompted three days later.

“Given the bruise was not ‘dis­cov­ered’ un­til four days af­ter the al­leged events it is pos­si­ble the bruise could have been as a re­sult of an en­tirely un­re­lated man­ner. There is no con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous ev­i­dence . . . to in­di­cate the bruise was present on the Mon­day of the al­leged in­ci­dent and to con­clude the bruise was as a re­sult of Ms Whaitiri’s ac­tions in those cir­cum­stances is not sus­tain­able.”

McKech­nie said the staff mem­ber’s ver­sion of events ap­peared to have changed through­out the process but the fi­nal re­port failed to men­tion those in­con­sis­ten­cies, nor did they ap­pear to have been put to the staffer.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred be­cause Whaitiri was un­happy at not hav­ing been alerted to a photo op­por­tu­nity at a me­dia stand-up with Ardern dur­ing a lunch break at the func­tion in Gis­borne. Other min­is­ters were stand­ing be­hind Ardern but Whaitiri wasn’t be­cause no one had told her it was hap­pen­ing.

Ardern sacked Whaitiri on Septem­ber 20 af­ter see­ing the fi­nal re­port, say­ing she had lost con­fi­dence in Whaitiri at that time, but did not rule out a re­turn for Whaitiri at some point.

Whaitiri re­mains the MP for the east­ern Ma¯ori elec­torate of IkaroaRawhiti and Labour’s Ma¯ori MPs main­tain sup­port in her as coleader of the Labour Ma¯ori cau­cus.

Whaitiri was sus­pended by Ardern as a min­is­ter on Au­gust 30, while Min­is­te­rial Ser­vices, the em­ployer of min­is­te­rial staff, con­ducted the in­quiry.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Whaitiri re­it­er­ated that she had at all times co-op­er­ated fully with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I have ac­cepted the Prime Min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion and I in­tend to work hard to re­gain her con­fi­dence.

“As noted I con­tested some of the al­le­ga­tions. How­ever, I am dis­ap­pointed my be­hav­iour led to a com­plaint. I am com­mit­ted to my own de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing bet­ter man­ag­ing em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ships.

“I am fo­cus­ing on work­ing hard for the peo­ple of Ikaroa-Ra¯whiti, as a mem­ber of Labour and Ma¯ori cau­cus and con­tribut­ing as a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.” Whaitiri said she would be mak­ing no fur­ther com­ment.

PHOTO / FILE

A leaked re­port to the Her­ald re­vealed the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing former Gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Meka Whaitiri and a staff mem­ber was al­leged to have left bruis­ing to the up­per right arm of the staffer.

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