Meka Whaitiri inquiry report leaked, not definitive but damaging

Another leak, this time of the draft report that led to Labour MP Meka Whaitiri being dropped as a minister. So while Jacinda Ardern walks and talks on the world stage this is another problem she left behind still festering.

Audrey Young (NZH) – The minister & the staffer: Leaked report into Meka Whaitiri incident

The incident involving former Government minister Meka Whaitiri and a staff member allegedly left bruising to the upper right arm of the staffer and photos of bruises were produced to the inquiry, a draft report leaked to the Herald shows.

The incident occurred because Whaitiri was unhappy at not having been alerted to a photo opportunity at a media standup with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a lunch break at a function in Gisborne.

Other ministers were standing behind Ardern but Whaitiri wasn’t because no one had told her it was happening.

There is no dispute that Whaitiri had words with her staffer for missing the event.

The staff member claims that Whaitiri came up behind her in the foyer of the building and grabbed her arm hard and took her outside when she saw Ardern having the standup.

But Whaitiri denies physically touching her staff member at any stage. There were no witnesses.

David Patten, the Wellington lawyer who conducted the inquiry for Ministerial Services, the employer of ministerial staff, found on the balance of probabilities that the staff member’s version was the more likely explanation.

He found that Whaitiri did not pull or drag the press secretary outside from the foyer of the building where the meeting was taking place.

But he found it more probable that Whaitiri approached the staffer from behind and grabbed her by the arm and that Whaitiri spoke in a raised voice to the staffer.

In evidence to the inquiry, the staff member said Whaitiri had blamed her for missing the media standup with the Prime Minister.

“She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside and said she needed to talk to me and when we were outside she raised her voice.

“I wouldn’t say yelled but she did raise her voice to me and asked me if I knew what I was doing in my job and did I realise I’d missed a media opportunity and that that was embarrassing to her because it was her electorate.”

The staffer originally told the inquiry that Whaitiri had pinched her arm but changed that to grabbed.

“It was hard and it scared the living daylights out of me,” she said.

In other parts of her evidence, she said: “She was definitely angry, and was definitely mad that I had screwed up. It scared me a lot and I didn’t want to return to that [work environment].”

Patten questioned the staff member about the bruises, why it took three days to see them and whether they could have been caused by something else such as a door handle.

She said it wasn’t until she was at a meeting with ministerial services on August 30 that they asked if there were any marks and until then she hadn’t thought to look.

Patten’s finding in the draft report is: “The photographs taken by Morag Ingram on August 30 2018 of [the press secretary’s] upper right arm showing a bruise on that arm … are consistent, in my view, with someone being approached from behind and grabbed by a
right-handed person”.

So this issue won’t go away. Even if no further action is taken and Whaitiri remains an MP – she is strongly backed by other Maori MPs – this is likely to keep being used against Labour and questions will keep being asked about Ardern’s leadership.

Audrey Young: Hard to see MP return as a minister

When Jacinda Ardern sacked Meka Whaitiri a week ago, it was on a trust-me basis.

She said she couldn’t tell the country why she had sacked the minister, her first sacking, without breaching the privacy of a staff member who complained about the minister — even though no one has named the staffer.

She relied on a report by a respected barrister, and after reading it Ardern no longer had confidence in Whaitiri as a minister “at this time”.

The draft findings, leaked to the Herald, clearly reveal why Ardern reached the decision she did on the basis of David Patten’s report.

On the balance of probabilities he is inclined to believe that Whaitiri was very annoyed she had not been alerted by her press secretary to the fact that Ardern was holding a standup where we see MPs nodding in the background, that she grabbed her staffer by the arm to say they needed to talk outside, and then pointed out to her in forceful language that it was her job to make sure she didn’t miss out on such media opportunities. The alleged grabbing of the arm and the bruises are the clincher, though Whaitiri denies physical contact.

Realistically it will be impossible for Whaitiri to return as a minister this term. A byelection in Ikaroa-Rawhiti is unlikely unless the pressure becomes too much.

Whaitiri has an unswerving support base in the Māori caucus.

So this leaves things in an awkward situation.

Two days ago (Newshub): ‘Absolutely gutted’ – Meka Whaitiri speaks for the first time since she was fired

Meka Whaitiri has spoken to media for the first time since being fired from her ministerial portfolios on Thursday last week.

She said it’s been a “debilitating time. I’m absolutely gutted by it.”

“I accept the Prime Minister’s decision. I’m going to take time now to reflect and look at ways of improving myself to regain the Prime Minister’s confidence.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do here on behalf of the people of Ikaroa-Rawhiti. I just want to get on with it,” Ms Whaitiri said.

She added she was “humbled” by the support of the Māori caucus.

Ms Whaitiri would not say which aspects of the report she disputes or whether she would contest the 2020 election.

She still has Maori MP support:

Ms Whaitiri remains an electorate MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti and co-chair of the Māori caucus, alongside Willy Jackson.

Mr Jackson said she is fit to remain co-chair of the Māori caucus.

“The Māori caucus has taken into account the great work that she has done and in terms of our strategies going forward. There’s a heck of a lot of support there.”

That support may or may not be sufficient to make it tenable for Whaitiri to stand again in her electorate. if she does the level of support in the electorate will then be tested and measured, but it will be difficult to measure the impact on Labour party support.

Perhaps, like Clare Curran, Whaitiri just doesn’t have a suitable temperament or the leadership skills required to be a Minister. The question will remain as to whether this also applies to being an MP.

 

 

 

 

90 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  September 27, 2018

    another storm in a teacup.

    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  September 27, 2018

      I think not Blazer..
      This cuts to the heart of what and who Labour stands for.
      I thought Labour was the party that believed in the right and dignity of workers.
      I didn’t think it was the party for the bosses and the elite.

      This leaked report is the first time we have heard from the alleged victim.

      Jacinda Ardern in her Christine Annapour interview talked of NZ’s terrible rate of domestic violence. It is going to be difficult to bring any authority to this issue when one of her own Ministers is implicated in using violence against an employee.

    • artcroft

       /  September 27, 2018

      Damn straight Blazer, put her back into cabinet. Let’s do this.

      • Corky

         /  September 27, 2018

        That’s like rehiring the same wagon train cook who served tainted Buffalo stew and grits, Arty. There’s a good chance it will happen again.

    • Dave K

       /  September 27, 2018

      So….. it is OK???

  2. Griff.

     /  September 27, 2018

    Until maori leadership condemn violence within their culture they will never succeed in addressing the horrific statistics of abuse and dysfunction.

  3. NOEL

     /  September 27, 2018

    Ahhh now some information at last that clarifies the police not getting involved.
    But no storm in a teacup. Employees have the right to work without that garbage.

  4. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    “But he found it more probable that Whaitiri approached the staffer from behind and grabbed her by the arm and that Whaitiri spoke in a raised voice to the staffer.”

  5. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    ““She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside and said she needed to talk to me and when we were outside she raised her voice.”

    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  September 27, 2018

      You do not touch the merchandise… You keep your hands to yourself at all times.
      Every teacher/social worker/employer knows the rules.

      • Corky

         /  September 27, 2018

        I agree, Maggy. But don’t you think some of our feral youth need a good slapping? It’s the only thing they understand. I mean. what’s the use of keeping your hands off a punk who bashes an 80 year old man?

        • robertguyton

           /  September 27, 2018

          I expected Corky to arrive and call everyone hounding Whaitiri a snowflake .

        • Maggy Wassilieff

           /  September 27, 2018

          No, I don’t think they need a good slapping.
          I think they have got to be feral youth who bash 80-year olds precisely because they have had too much slapping, punching, beating as kids.
          I do believe they need discipline and punishment…. But not by being slapped or any other type of bashing.
          I think folks who bash and abuse others are lacking in some fundamental ways.
          They are often ill educated and poorly socialised.

          I reckon placing feral youth in some institution where they are fed properly, subjected to a structured routine, sent to do lots of physical work and some sport, and given some basic education is probably a better solution than anything we have at present.

        • robertguyton

           /  September 27, 2018

          Corky advocates violence against youth.

          • Corky

             /  September 27, 2018

            No, where did I say that as a blanket statement?

            • robertguyton

               /  September 27, 2018

              “But don’t you think some of our feral youth need a good slapping? “

            • Corky

               /  September 27, 2018

              ”Corky advocates violence against youth.”

              “But don’t you think some of our feral youth need a good slapping? “

              Where’s the blanket statement?

            • Dave K

               /  September 27, 2018

              If a slapping is required, looks like the Maori caucus would be a good place to start…..so many musses

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 27, 2018

            That is advocating violence towards young people, Robert. Slapping – (hitting) youth….how else can it be interpreted ? Corky, I suppose, would decide who needs this hitting to cure them of hitting. If it did. I’d imagine that it would just reinforce the message that violence is the answer.

            It’s naive to imagine that someone who’s been hit is unlikely to use violence themselves.

          • Trevors_elbow

             /  September 27, 2018

            Thread jacking…again. Mickey would ban you Robert as would LPrent….

            You condoning Left Wing politicians grabbing people… leaving bruises … creating unsafe work environments.

            Nice to know where you stand

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 27, 2018

          Corky, I reckon there’s many a human being, child psychologists among us, who believe a “feral youth who needs a slapping” was once a child who received slappings, or far worse abuse, and your slapping is likely to produce an adult who slaps, or abuses far worse …

          • Corky

             /  September 27, 2018

            We have a real child psychologists in the whanau. At the table it’s very interesting to see the results of his non-smacking ideology, verses the smacking ideology- where appropriate- with regards to family members children. One set of kids have great table manners..the others have their own table with a canvass mat underneath to keep the carpet clean.

            The old myth about the abusers becoming abusers is just that..a myth. I’m talking about physical punishment where appropriate.

            Where abused children become abusers is when they are bashed, sometimes for no reason, with no warning…without any constant rules that define what is and isn’t acceptable.

            • PartisanZ

               /  September 27, 2018

              Well … all I can say is … Young children’s behaviour due to not being abused may be somewhat more unruly and exuberant than the well-disciplined ones …

              These may be the kids that go on, through freer play and exploration, to thinking and acting more empathetic and independently.

              I’m not talking about no guidelines at all …

              But kids grow-up out of NOT BEING ABUSED as well …

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  September 27, 2018

            I can never understand the logic of those who find it acceptable to inflict pain on children by way of hitting and call this ‘discipline’. Hitting an adult is called violence and assault. Hitting a woman is an offence in its own right.

            Violence towards children is described by its advocates as being a good parent.

            It is surely not necessary to beat a child to teach it decent table manners. I know nobody who has flogged their children into behaving like civilised beings at the table and not like pigs at a trough who need a mat under the table.

      • robertguyton

         /  September 27, 2018

        “merchandise”?
        Interesting and revealing.

        • Corky

           /  September 27, 2018

          What else would you call a slave to an egotistical socialist?

        • Maggy Wassilieff

           /  September 27, 2018

          It’s my useful way of getting a message across on a blog:
          It encompasses aspects of shop lifting/theft from your employer/ as well as assault.

          • admiralvonspee

             /  September 27, 2018

            Nuance isn’t his strong suit Mags 🙂

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              watch out for the Scharnhorst….with all guns ..blazing…Admiral.

          • robertguyton

             /  September 27, 2018

            You’ve commodified a human. National supporting business owner, are you?

            • Maggy Wassilieff

               /  September 27, 2018

              National supporting business owner, are you?

              Not at all, just a Pacifist.

          • Blazer

             /  September 27, 2018

            ‘merchandise’ has sexual connotations…genitalia…Maggie..

            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 27, 2018

              I can’t say I have ever heard genitals called “merchandise” before? Obviously I don’t watch the same movies as you…

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              I can’t say I have ever heard an arm called “merchandise” before? Obviously I don’t watch the same movies as you…

            • Maggy Wassilieff

               /  September 27, 2018

              I know, but some folks don’t, it appears.

              Perhaps they have been confined to refined circles where women and workers aren’t treated as POS.

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              /’Perhaps they have been confined to refined circles where women and workers aren’t treated as POS.’

              jolly good show…nothing like a bit of ponytail pulling,great way of dragging them back to the cave for a romp..eh what!

  6. Strong For Life

     /  September 27, 2018

    Sack her and call a by-election.

  7. Corky

     /  September 27, 2018

    Ego..Maori bullying..mana. A toxic trio that spells trouble for any unfortunate caught up in its vortex.

    Questions must be asked of the PM as to why she didn’t release this report.

    Questions must also be asked of Willy Jackson and the Maori caucus. Jackson seems to have a default setting of supporting all Maori regardless of their actions. This is a Clint Rickard rerun .

    Like the last Labour intake, the current one will learn to dislike Maori intensely.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 27, 2018

      I give them credit for more intelligence than that.

      And Clint Rickard was vindicated in court.

  8. Gezza

     /  September 27, 2018

    The problem for Meka is that this comes on the back of reports of longstanding that she has a history of bullying staff.

    • Gezza

       /  September 27, 2018

      How did this draft report get leaked btw? This parliament leaks like a bloody sieve.

      And why on earth leak a draft report at this time? Surely the best time to release a leaked draft is when the final official one is released – so any sanitisations can be made the most of?

      You have to question the competence of our msm sometimes.

      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  September 27, 2018

        Why leak it now?
        1. Takes the heat off Peters and the haumaha carry-on
        2. Jacinda is out of the Country… her hands aren’t sullied… Parliament will be in down time for the next two weeks…. she will have moved on

        • Gezza

           /  September 27, 2018

          Good thinking. Sorry, I meant why publish it now (Audrey)?
          Is Audrey playing favourites?

  9. duperez

     /  September 27, 2018

    “She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside and said she needed to talk to me and when we were outside she raised her voice.”

    Yes, definitely grounds for the Government to resign and call for an election as I’ve seen suggested. If I’d been the complainant’s lawyer I’m sure I could have included bits about “almost ripped the flesh off my body” and something like “dragged me around three corners and 15 metres down the path.” Along with of course, “yelled and screamed at me for a considerable time.”

    If that is the best worst the lawyer can come up with, she or he should be sacked along with Whaitiri and the whole Government.

    Had Billy Slater’s lawyer been involved, by now the ‘victim’ would’ve apologise and paid costs to Whaitiri.

    (The incident should not have happened but it is not World War 3 or a sign it is about to break out. Much to the disappointment of some.)

    • Gezza

       /  September 27, 2018

      When one is in the media one makes a big thing out of anything – whether that’s taking a baby to the UN General Assembly or a leaked report that a Minister went apeshit at some poor flunky, bruised her arm, and frightened her into not returning to work with the maniac.

      When one is in Opposition one makes hay while the sun shines. It’s not like Andy ever did it – is it? Well, no, hang on – he did – but he often ended up apologising or backtracking. National is being gifted with some goodies. Even Simon can manage to score points off them – which is saying something!

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  September 27, 2018

        I was once grabbed by the arm hard enough to cause bruises by a disgusting bully of a local man who threw me out of a gathering to which I had been invited and had proof that I had been. When someone’s pinching your upper arm hard enough to leave marks, it bloody well hurts. In my case, it was particularly painful as it was the arm that had been badly injured in a crash. It doesn’t sound much – being grabbed by the arm – but it can be agony if the person’s fingers are digging right in.

  10. PartisanZ

     /  September 27, 2018

    If Whaitiri behaves like that over a missed “photo opportunity” she’s got her priorities wrong as an elected representative I reckon …. just saying …

    Some time for reflection and an opportunity to improve herself, which I gather is what she’s taking, seems an entirely appropriate course of action to me … provided the staffer doesn’t want to pursue a legal case …

    Whaitiri’s ‘admission’ of regret and commitment to self-improvement I saw on TV is rare among politicians IMHO … and therefore commendable …

    If a government resigned over it the same people who called for their resignation would call them “weaklings” …

  11. High Flying Duck

     /  September 27, 2018

    • Corky

       /  September 27, 2018

      I wondered where Deborah had retreated to. Apparently she married some rich dude, chucked Libertarianism and became a socialist. Looks like the experiment may be failing.
      Welcome back, girl. Come back to your tribe and fight the good fight. There’s more than enough barbarians to pass around. You can have what’s left after Muriel Newman and I have had our fill.

      • Gezza

         /  September 27, 2018

        I don’t think she ever became a socialist. She probably just doesn’t completely fit one of the limited mindset moulds you try to squeeze everyone into, Corks?

        • Corky

           /  September 27, 2018

          She became a socialist. Started talking about how the poor weren’t being looked after.
          Started helping out a at pre school breakfast scheme for hungry school kids. Stated Libertarianism was too nasty. Did a complete 180.

          But as I commented above, the dream seems to be wearing thin..a little like this government with voters ( I hope).

          • Blazer

             /  September 27, 2018

            stop talking b/s ..her partner is an establishment lawyer..one with a big rep..C.Carutthers from memory.

          • Gezza

             /  September 27, 2018

            Started helping out a at pre school breakfast scheme for hungry school kids.
            I thought that was a nice thing to do, tbh.

            I don’t recall her ever stating Libertarianism was too nasty? Have you got a link?

          • Corky

             /  September 27, 2018

            She was on the Radio as a fill-in a few years back. A few Libertarians had a go at her. She became quite irritated and stated that type of nastiness was one reason she left Libertarinism. I have told her she always struck me as a brittle Libertarian. She said the right things, but there was no passion behind her words. I was eventually proven right.

            BLazer:

            ”Stop talking b/s ..her partner is an establishment lawyer..one with a big rep..C.Carutthers from memory.”

            What has that to do with the price of fish? Dick Hubbard was a socialist.

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              chalk and cheese ,her former long time partner was the ‘esteemed’ author Alastair Taylor of ‘down under the plumtrees ‘ and the little red schoolbook’ – was a socialist.

              She discovered the warmth and security of…wealth.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              Oh, ok. She’s possibly just a conservative now. Some libertarians can be quite unpleasant people – Stefan Molyneux, for example. It’s understandable she might want not want to associate with the ones who’re assholes.

  12. High Flying Duck

     /  September 27, 2018

    And for good measure:

    • Blazer

       /  September 27, 2018

      another stupid Actoid.

      • Gezza

         /  September 27, 2018

        WTF’s Billy Apple?

        • High Flying Duck

           /  September 27, 2018

          I couldn’t work that bit out either. He’s a NZ artist who is associated with…apples. As to context with the rest of the tweet – no idea.

          • Gezza

             /  September 27, 2018

            Never mind. Possibly she’d just had one too many or something.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              Nobody likes the doggy? I was hoping for at least one uptick. It’s got nothing to do with this topic but I came across it looking for another gif and I though it was cute. I’m sure the doggie’s fine – it might even be deliberately doing that.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              *thought

            • Griff.

               /  September 27, 2018

              Looks like the dog really took a hard tumble geeza
              All fun and games until to you see the vet bill.
              Mine done something similar when I chucked a stick down the gully…. he was limping for weeks after.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              Looks to me like the owner videoed it & the doggie knows the game.

          • Corky

             /  September 27, 2018

            Billy Apple..the chap who does art with apples. One piece has a green and red apple stuck to a board. It was call ” On and Off.” Worth big money apparently Probably bought by the Service Industry Union.😃

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 27, 2018

        Yeah, stupid cow doesn’t believe in bashing the workers when they play up. She should toughen up like the Labour sheila’s eh?

        • Blazer

           /  September 27, 2018

          over egging the pudding there Duck.
          Grabbed an arm!…try pulling a ponytail,continually after being asked to desist…thats real assault!!

          • High Flying Duck

             /  September 27, 2018

            So playful (if unwanted) ponytail pulling on a non-employee followed by apology and bottle of wine when she asked him to stop is more of an assault than leaving bruises on a subordinate staff member in the course of their work?

            Good-oh.

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              power imbalance..she requested he desist a number of times,was ig nored…tell Meka to send the ‘victim’ a bottle of wine then.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  September 27, 2018

            Also yet to see any apology or even acknowledgement of the employee from Meka or Labour yet…there is only room to defend the upstanding character of the Minister with the reputation for making her staff miserable it seems.

  13. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 27, 2018

    #youtooLabour

  14. Tipene

     /  September 27, 2018

    What Whaitiri did counts as common assault under the 1961 Crimes Act:

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM329385.html

    Sorry – on what grounds are the Maori caucus defending her?

    Bus -under – throw.

    The end.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 27, 2018

      But there’s been no complaint of common assault, has there?

      • Gezza

         /  September 27, 2018

        Don’t think there’s even been a complaint of sophisticated assault.

    • Gezza

       /  September 27, 2018

      on what grounds are the Maori caucus defending her?
      She’s Maori. You don’t criticise.

      • Corky

         /  September 27, 2018

        Damn, beaten to the punch. That’s it in a nutshell..as Donna Awatere-Huata found out. Talk about the irony of ironies.

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 27, 2018

          Super-gross generalizations gentlemen …

          What about all the hapu/iwi infighting … some of which is holding up Treaty settlements?

          Winston’s Maori … and he criticizes Maori frequently … He doesn’t want Maori seats …

          Shows of unity are common across the whole ‘identity politics’ spectrum, including Far-Right, Alt-Right and Right Brigade …

          Why wouldn’t Labour’s Maori parliamentarians show unity?

          • Gezza

             /  September 27, 2018

            Super-gross generalizations gentlemen …
            You don’t publicly criticise gang members, and you don’t publicly criticise other Maori, to Pakeha, and certainly not in this sort of situation where Pakeha are having a go.

            Those who do can get vilified.

            It may be a “gross generalisation” to you, but it’s just simple observation to me. Maori may criticise another Maori privately, one to one, to a pakeha – it’s happened with me – although even then, usually reluctantly and only if they know you well and know you’re not a Maori-basher. I’m not making a judgement. Its just what happens; & it’s what I expected.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              PS: Winston’s happy walking in both worlds. To many Maori he’s more Pakeha than Maori. But he still knows his way around on te marae.

            • Blazer

               /  September 27, 2018

              Winston is actually the most influential politician of the last 30 years.

            • Gezza

               /  September 27, 2018

              In some ways, that’s true.

  1. Meka Whaitiri inquiry report leaked, not definitive but damaging — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition