Shane Reti ‘bullying’ sets worrying precedent

Whangarei MP Shane Reti has been accused of bullying by a small activist group.But the manner on which this has been reported sets a worrying precedent, where an MP’s conversation is recorded and that is then used to stir up a storm with very debatable evidence obtained and used sneakily.

RNZ reports  Dusty road group claim bullying.

Whangarei dairy farmer Alex Wright said Whangarei National MP Shane Reti rang her last week and told her the Pipiwai advocacy group should keep quiet for the next two and a half weeks – or risk getting nothing.

In the call, which she recorded, Dr Reti said he had been working behind the scenes to help the group, but warned her that could be jeopardised if the group continued to agitate and send what he called threatening emails to MPs.

Ms Wright said she was taken aback by Dr Reti’s call, and felt bullied.

And there has been quite a reaction from mainstream and social media.

Stephanie Rogers at The Standard: Who said it? Shane Reti vs. Aaron Gilmore

Now, Shane Reti, elected in 2014 in the safe seat of Whangarei, has been accused of threatening a local lobby group to stay quiet while the Northland by-election hangs by a thread.

It’s appalling behaviour, but is it surprising? After all, can you pick which of the quotes below were said by Shane Reti, and which by Aaron Gilmore?

Who’s behaviour is appalling? RNZ also reported:

But Dr Reti said he was trying to help the group – not bully them.

Most of the responses at The Standard are predictably aghast at Reti’s behaviour. But Matthew Hooton commented:

Having listened to the recording in full, I don’t see anything wrong with what he said. It sounds totally polite and straightforward. I think the worse behaviour is taping a routine call from a local MP trying to help and releasing it.

And Alan Wilkinson said here yesterday:

And here is the Herald’s transcript report of what Reti said:

The activist claims it was “subtle bullying”. To anyone else it was simple common sense telling an idiot that threatening MPs is a counter-productive way to get them to help you and support your cause. Then the idiot ran off squealing to the media.

This is what the Herald reported:

In the recording forwarded to the Herald, Dr Reti said he had got the issue to the Cabinet and had originally thought the announcement, which turned out to be about widening 10 bridges, might have been to announce their success, but it turned out not to be.

He then expressed concern about an email that all MPs had recently received about their case and said the threatening tone in the email would be guaranteed to put an end to his approach.

“If this next two and a half weeks is so critically important to have that tone, then go ahead and do it, no problem, and we will see what the consequence is.

“If another two and a half weeks doesn’t matter to you, then for goodness’ sake don’t do any more … weigh it up and see what you think.”

Dr Reti said he would approach ministers again to see if the issue was still on the table, whether it was still moving forward or had slipped off.

“Whatever strategy you think the best, you should and must do,” he told Alex Wright, “but I just want to give you a brief heads up for my piece of work in this.”

For this to become an accusation of bullying astounds me. And it sets a worrying precedent.

Political activists try all sorts of things to try and score hits against opponents. Dirt happens frequently.

But when the media buy into something like this and promote it then we should be very worried.

Dusty roads looks like deceitful dirty politics, aided and abetted by journalists who should know better – and should do much better.

If they willingly run stories like this then they can’t expect politicians to clean up their act, and our democracy suffers.

Leave a comment


  1. kittycatkin

     /  19th March 2015

    Oh, I am so tired of hearing that people are being bullied when it’s a single incident and it’s all in their own minds, like children pouting and whining that they’re being picked on. It’s becoming a grossly overused word, and is, as tends to happen, in danger of becoming meaningless. If everyone’s a victim, nobody is. It’s like classing a raised voice as domestic violence-if that’s domestic violence, then we’re all domestic violence victims. If someone doesn’t get their own way, they too often start whining about being bullied. This case is not that; it sounded like someone (Dr Reti) trying very hard to be patient under trying circumstances.

    Er…is it legal to record phone calls and release them ?

  2. kittycatkin

     /  19th March 2015

    It seems to depend upon the circumstances in each case.

    • duperez

       /  19th March 2015

      Yeah, it wasn’t bullying then, it was just a threat, ” Shut up or your road goes to the bottom of the list.” When the media don’t buy into exposing such as the Reti attitude we’re in deep trouble.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  20th March 2015

        Your nonsense is on a hiding to nothing. No facts, no logic, no common sense, no brains. Must be a Lefty lobbyist.

        Suggested reading: Dale Carnegie. Could be a life changed and life maker.

  3. Tony

     /  19th March 2015

    Sean Plunket covered this on Radio Live Thurs morning at some length. He had a very interesting conversation with Alex Wright, who admitted it was she who sent the recording to Radio NZ and did not tell Reti. The conversation convinced Plunket (and, I hope, the more sensible of his listeners that the issue was not in any way bullying.

    Worth a listen.

  4. Why has no one …including Shane Reti and Sean Plunkett not contacted the person i.e me Andrew Blake …..who wrote the letters that Shane Reti did not like……Is it because they think women are easier to bully.
    Why have so few people bothered to read the original email…which was not addressed to Shane Reti…and pointed out where these ”threats” are supposed to be.
    Have they listened to Reti on Nat Radio, TVs 1 and 3 and seen Shane Reti lose it and go blustering on about ”threats to school children”.
    Why not listen to the recording that Phil Twyford played in Parliament …””..You get nothing””…and consider was that not a threat.?
    And the biggest question of all is ”was Shane told to do it by National”‘…anyone who knows Northland Politics….has no doubt about that.
    Anybody interested in another email from Andrew Blake complaining to Parliament on how Northland politics is gerrymandered.?

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd March 2015

    Because no-one has published the emails anywhere I have seen. Post them here.


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