Northern Advocate apology

It looks like being a day of media apologies.

The Northern Advocate has apologised for publishing an article that claimed people from Wales and the Mediterranean settled New Zealand before Maori did. See The white tangata whenua

From The Hui:

APOLOGY FROM THE NORTHERN ADVOCATE REGARDING AN ARTICLE WHICH CLAIMED TO SHOW ANCIENT PRE-MĀORI FACES RE-CREATED FROM SKULLS FOUND IN THE NORTH.

The story was published by the Northern Advocate and shared with the NZ Herald.
The Northern Advocate accepts it was wrong to publish Mr Hilliam’s theory of pre-Maori occupation before receiving information from the university that Mr Hilliam cited as a source of his reconstructed drawings.

We had contacted the university, from whom we initially did not hear back, and wrongly chose to publish Mr Hilliam’s opinion without its response.

The notion of pre-Maori occupation is a sensitive one — something of which the paper has become acutely aware.

We regret the story has been a catalyst for some people to infer political or racial motives.

There was no motive behind the publication of the story other than to contribute to the ongoing healthy debate about Northland’s rich history.

We are not experts on Maori matters but we respect tikanga and, in general, enjoy a good, robust relationship with local tangata whenua.

We strive to report positive Maori stories, and we are proactive in highlighting the success of Maori youth. For instance, a Whangarei man received the Te Toa Reo Maori – Takitahi (Individual Achievement) award at the Maori Language Commission’s Nga Tohu Reo Maori in December, after the paper nominated him for the award.

And we share the optimism of Nga Puhi that the treaty settlement will bring good things for Northlanders.

We have learned many lessons from this story, which has also embarrassed our matua within the NZ Herald.

We are continuing to work on bringing balance to Mr Hilliam’s theories and will share this with our readers as soon as this work is completed.

Northlanders — and New Zealanders — should be open to debate about the past, the present and the future. But there is a right way to encourage any such debate. We did it the wrong way, for which we apologise.

This looks like a fair comment:

Atakohu Middleton There is absolutely nothing to debate. Hilliam’s theories have been debunked countless times. The issue is that the Northern Advocate didn’t do its homework.

Taxpayers’ Union response to Spinoff apology

Jordan Williams has responded to the Spinoff apology and has demanded answers. There are suggestions of a thick plot here.

Retraction and apology received from the Spinoff

The full retraction and apology by the Spinoff, relating to allegations that were totally false and defamatory, contained in an article by Simon Wilson, and published on the Spinoff website morning, is welcome.

The Spinoff has accepted that the Taxpayers’ Union (including its affiliate the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance) and the three people named in the original article had no role in the distribution of feathers. The Spinoff has apologised for making the allegation and rewritten the article.

We want to know how the Spinoff got this so wrong, and why they didn’t even bother to approach us for comment before publishing.  Both organisations operate 24-hour phone lines for media comment. We couldn’t be more available.

The Spinoff is funded by Auckland Council through its “Heart of the City” lobby group.  We want to be satisfied that the Spinoff was not acting pursuant to the Council’s interest in distracting attention from the finalisation of the Council’s budget.

This suggests there could be a thick plot here.

It’s fair to ask how the incorrect accusation came about.

Apology and settlement for Parihaka

After the Parihaka Papakainga Trust agreed to a reconciliation package the Government will apologise for atrocities including the rape of women during the sacking of Parihaka.

This will be signed at a ceremony on 9 June, over 130 years later.

RNZ: Govt to apologise for Parihaka atrocities

The Crown is to formally apologise for atrocities during the sacking of the pacifist settlement at Parihaka in Taranaki in 1881.

The government has also offered to acknowledge the rape of women at Parihaka by Crown troops after they invaded on 5 November 1881.

The package includes $9 million, which the trust initially rejected as being not enough.

It also includes help in establishing a governance structure, the creation of an intellectual property framework and deals for services from 10 Crown agencies and three local councils.

In the 1870s, under the leadership of Te Whiti-o-Rongomai III and Tohu Kākahi, Parihaka became a centre of non-violent resistance to land confiscation.

In 1880 the government began building roads through land it had confiscated, and the West Coast Commission recommended creating reserves for the Parihaka people.

People of Parihaka were imprisoned if they rebuilt fences in the areas, but were released in early 1881.

About 1600 government troops invaded the settlement on 5 November 1881, and the village was destroyed while several thousand Māori sat quietly.

Its leaders were arrested and detained without trial for 16 months.


New Zealand History: Occupation of pacifist settlement at Parihaka

Retouched photograph showing a comet over Mt Egmont/Taranaki and Parihaka village

About 1600 government troops invaded the western Taranaki settlement of Parihaka, which had come to symbolise peaceful resistance to the confiscation of Māori land.

Founded in the mid-1860s, Parihaka was soon attracting dispossessed and disillusioned Māori from around the country. Its main leaders were Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, both of the Taranaki and Te Ātiawa iwi.

When in May 1879 the colonial government moved to occupy fertile land in the Waimate Plains that had in theory been confiscated in the 1860s, Te Whiti and Tohu developed tactics of non-violent resistance.

Ploughmen from Parihaka fanned out across Taranaki to assert continuing Māori ownership of the land. The government responded with laws targeting the Parihaka protesters and imprisoned several hundred ploughmen without trial.

Following an election in September 1879, the new government announced an enquiry into the confiscations while sending the ploughmen to South Island gaols. In 1880 the West Coast Commission recommended creating reserves for the Parihaka people. Meanwhile, the government began constructing roads through cultivated land. Men from Parihaka who rebuilt their fences soon joined the ploughmen in detention.

The prisoners were released in early 1881. After ploughing resumed in July, Sir John Hall’s government decided to act decisively while Governor Sir Arthur Gordon was out of the colony. A proclamation on 19 October gave the ‘Parihaka natives’ 14 days to accept the reserves offered or face the consequences.

Armed Constabulary units at Parihaka, 1881
(Alexander Turnbull Library, PA1-q-183-19)

On 5 November, 1600 volunteer and Armed Constabulary troops marched on Parihaka. Several thousand Māori sat quietly on the marae as singing children greeted the force led by Native Minister John Bryce. The Whanganui farmer had fought in the campaign against Tītokowaru (see 9 June) and viewed Parihaka as a ‘headquarters of fanaticism and disaffection’. Bryce ordered the arrest of Parihaka’s leaders, the destruction of much of the village and the dispersal of most of its inhabitants.

 

Ngaro apologises, sort of

Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro has apologised, sort of,  for a speech that threatened repercussions against an application for a partnership school involving Willie Jackson if Jackson cricised National during the election campaign – see Charter school threat from National MP.

Actually that sounds like a poor apology.

This has seriously embarrassed National and senior ministers have (sort of) said that Ngaro’s remarks were out of order.

Stuff:  Apology over threat to withdraw funding from Government opponents

A junior government minister has apologised to his senior colleagues for “crossing the line” after implying people who bagged the Government would lose their taxpayer funding.

National’s campaign manager and Finance Minister Steven Joyce said Ngaro realised he had crossed the line with his comments and apologised.

“He apologised to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and myself as campaign chair. He got carried away…he crossed the line.”

Joyce said Ngaro’s comments were “not the way we operate”.

“We work with providers of all types all the time; people have their political views separate to work they do with the Government. The Government doesn’t take a view on people’s political views.”

Joyce and National and Ngaro will have to do much better than this on arrogance of power, or they could crash and burn this election.

There’s potentially been a lot of damage done to National – something like this could easily precipitate the current Government’s demise.

Little “accepted…there was no impropriety”?

In Court yesterday in the defamation case taken against him by Earl and Lani Andrew Little said:

“…once the Auditor-General did her inquiry, I accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety and I was happy to give them a public apology”.

However he didn’t attempt a public apology until two weeks ago, and Lani Hagaman has said in courth that the first she knew about it was being asked for a response to it by journalists.

And I don’t recall Little saying that he “accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety”.

Back in September when the report was released from Stuff: AG clears contract at centre of political donations row

The Auditor General has found there was nothing unusual about the selection of Scenic Hotel Group as the operator of a Niue tourism resort at the centre of a political row over a six figure donation to National.

Auditor General Lyn Provost said from the available information her office had found there was a standard procurement process with reasoned and documented analysis for the selection of Scenic Hotel Group to operate the resort, and for the subsequent investment of New Zealand international development assistance funds in expanding the resort.

The contract was referred to Provost by Labour leader Andrew Little after he questioned the company’s links to National.

Little is now being sued for defamation by the Hagaman’s after refusing to apologise and retract a statement that the deal “stunk to high heaven”.

Little said in a statement the limits to Provost’s mandate meant she was unable to address the key issues he had raised.

“I have a duty as Leader of the Opposition to raise questions in the public interest and respond to media stories on the use of public funds.

“Taking the issue to the Auditor-General was the right thing to do.”

He would not comment further as the matter was before the courts.

That seems to be at odds with what he said in court yesterday.

RNZ reports on yesterday in court: Andrew Little defends efforts to settle defamation case

Mr Little told the court he accepted the Hagamans were entitled to an apology, and letters were exchanged between his lawyers and the Hagamans about that.

“As I’ve said, once the Auditor-General did her inquiry, I accepted her conclusion there was no impropriety and I was happy to give them a public apology.

“The frustration was trying to get form of apology that would be acceptable [to the Hagamans].”

Mr Little said he was sorry for any hurt he had caused the Hagamans, and apologised to Lani Hagaman in person in court today.

“I apologise for the words … causing you hurt and I stand by the efforts I’ve made to resolve this matter,” he said.

He still seems to be struggling with how to do an appropriate apology.

The Hagamans’ lawyer, Richard Fowler QC, questioned him closely about his claim that the couple appeared not to want to reach a resolution.

Mr Little conceded there had been an offer, but his letter in reply said while he would make an apology he did not agree to pay the costs sought or damages.

He said he thought the proposal from the Hagamans was just an opening gambit and he expected further negotiations, but the amount they claimed kept rising.

“They said $100,000, then $215,000. I thought the legal costs were excessive.”

“It included $17,000 to a PR firm, which I understood is not recoverable in court … and I wouldn’t meet that cost.”

A sensible opening gambit could have been a comprehensive apology?

Mr Fowler asked Mr Little whether it would not have been wise to check details before ruining someone’s reputation, but Mr Little disputed that.

“Given the track record of the government I thought what I was doing was right and proper.”

But instead Little is still trying to defend making accusations against the Government (part of his defence is qualified privilege, doing his job as Leader of the Opposition) and by association against the Hagamans and their company.

The case continues today. It seems to be progressing quite quickly with the cross-examination of Little starting yesterday. It has been set down for five days and so far looks likely to fit in that time frame.

 

Little’s statement/apology

I’m trying to understand what Andrew Little is trying to achieve with his ‘apology’ to Earl and Lani Hagaman.

A defamation case that the Hagamans are taking against Little is due to proceed in the Wellington High Court on 3 April.

The apology is just a part of a media statement Little issued yesterday. He has done it as a Labour Party statement as Leader of the Opposition so it seems to be a political statement more so than a personal apology.

LittleStatementHagaman

This was also issued as a press release via Scoop:

Statement re Earl Hagaman

Andrew Little
Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2017

So it is a Labour Party press release from Little as Leader of the Opposition. It is a political statement rather than a court statement or a personal statement and apology to the Hagamans, although an apology of sorts is included in it.

In June last year, Mr Earl and Mrs Lani Hagaman issued defamation proceedings over media statements I made about the award in September 2014 of a hotel management contract in Niue to the Scenic Hotel Group (in which they were shareholders and directors) followed by a $7 million upgrade.

It was a matter of public record that Mr Hagaman had donated $101,000 to the National Party in that same month. This generated considerable media interest.

Little tried to generate public interest in it with this statement on 18 April 2016.

LittleStatementAuditorGeneral

The accusations in that generated media interest, and it generated objections from the Hagamans.

As Leader of the Opposition, I considered I had an obligation to respond to media questions on the issues which related to government actions.

He also has an obligation to base any serious accusations against political opponents and against private persons on facts.

I referred the matter to the Auditor-General because I believed the public was entitled to be reassured.

It appeared that Little referred the matter to the Auditor General to try to get the AG to find evidence to support his accusations.

My focus was, and has always been, on holding the Government to account.

It looked more like he was trying to smear the Government, Ministers and the Hagamans with no evidence. Little had said that the timing of the donation “stinks to high heaven”.

Throughout, the Hagamans have vigorously maintained there was no connection between the award of the contract to Scenic and Mr Hagaman’s donation.

By April 21 “Scenic Hotel Group founders Earl and Lani Hagaman are considering legal action over Mr Little’s claims about the timing of a donation from Mr Hagaman to the National Party a month before the hotel group was awarded a contract in Niue.” NZ Herald.

The Auditor-General did not establish any connection.

From a letter from the Auditor General to Little dated 7 September 2016:

LittleAGLetter

Letter: Response to request for inquiry into awarding a management contract for a hotel in Niue

So despite “The information you subsequently provided to my Office on 27 July and 2 September has been considered as part of preparing this response” the Auditor-General found no problems.

In those circumstances, I thought the matter should be resolved. Over the last three months, I have made a serious effort to do that. Today I want to publicly apologise unreservedly to Mr Hagaman for any hurt, embarrassment or adverse reflection on his reputation which may have resulted from my various media statements. I have offered that apology to the Hagamans.

There is no retraction there, and no apology for getting things wrong. Just ‘sorry if you were upset about my various media statements’. If Little’s “serious effort” to resolve things have been anything like this then it’s no wonder it is scheduled for Court.

I have also offered to make a substantial contribution towards the Hagamans’ costs; an amount I am advised, was greater than would likely have been awarded by the Court.

Little is trying to defend his attempts at negotiating an out of court settlement in public.

He has conceded that a “substantial contribution towards costs” is appropriate. The way things are going those costs will be mounting – in a statement yesterday the Hagamans claimed “we’ve spent more than $200,000 in legal fees in preparing for this case”.

My offers of an apology and redress have been rejected and the matter will now have to be resolved in court. That is unfortunate.

Unfortunate for Little. It sounds like he is trying to portray himself as a victim of misfortune.

I strongly believe everybody’s time, not least the Court’s, could be better used.

A remarkable comment given Little’s initial and subsequent actions, including his latest statement. The Auditor-General’s time could have been better used than on a politically motivated smear attempt.

I want to make it clear that the object of the criticism was the actions of the National government and that I intended to reflect no impropriety on the part of Mr Hagaman.

No reference there to Mrs Hagaman, or to their company.

The Hagamans and Scenic Circle were just some collateral damage in a political hit? He may not have intended to reflect on their impropriety or otherwise but you would have to be a fool to not see that naming them would reflect on them.

I accept that no connection has been established between the donation and the award of the management contract and the hotel upgrade.

He is not admitting he got it wrong so his apology is hollow. All he is doing is saying he has established no connection and the Auditor-General found no connection. He is implying that he could have been right but there is no evidence to support his accusations.

I propose to make no further statement until the proceedings are resolved.

That’s about the only sensible thing that Little has said in his statement.

Little is digging a deeper hole here, and he is flying the Labour flag over it.

Little apology, too late?

Andrew Little out this out via Labour Party press release today:

Andrew Little
Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2017

Statement re Earl Hagaman

In June last year, Mr Earl and Mrs Lani Hagaman issued defamation proceedings over media statements I made about the award in September 2014 of a hotel management contract in Niue to the Scenic Hotel Group (in which they were shareholders and directors) followed by a $7 million upgrade.

It was a matter of public record that Mr Hagaman had donated $101,000 to the National Party in that same month. This generated considerable media interest. As Leader of the Opposition, I considered I had an obligation to respond to media questions on the issues which related to government actions. I referred the matter to the Auditor-General because I believed the public was entitled to be reassured. My focus was, and has always been, on holding the Government to account.

Throughout, the Hagamans have vigorously maintained there was no connection between the award of the contract to Scenic and Mr Hagaman’s donation. The Auditor-General did not establish any connection.

In those circumstances, I thought the matter should be resolved. Over the last three months, I have made a serious effort to do that. Today I want to publicly apologise unreservedly to Mr Hagaman for any hurt, embarrassment or adverse reflection on his reputation which may have resulted from my various media statements. I have offered that apology to the Hagamans. I have also offered to make a substantial contribution towards the Hagamans’ costs; an amount I am advised, was greater than would likely have been awarded by the Court.

My offers of an apology and redress have been rejected and the matter will now have to be resolved in court. That is unfortunate. I strongly believe everybody’s time, not least the Court’s, could be better used.

I want to make it clear that the object of the criticism was the actions of the National government and that I intended to reflect no impropriety on the part of Mr Hagaman. I accept that no connection has been established between the donation and the award of the management contract and the hotel upgrade.

I propose to make no further statement until the proceedings are resolved.

The Hagamans have responded:

HagamanOnLittleApology

He has belatedly apologised, sort of. He makes excuses.

He seems to be blaming Mr Hagaman for not settling, and a week before it is due to go to court plays the ‘wasting court time’ card.

The apology looks more like a political statement than contrition.

This looks very messy for Little.

Background detail at Stuff: Labour leader Andrew Little headed to court over defamation case

Past posts on this:

Delegat apology but will consider appeal

The Delegat family issued a statement of apology on behalf of Nikolas Delegat to NZ Herald. This is included in an ODT article Rich-lister’s son apologises

In a statement released to the Herald on behalf of the Delegat family, Nikolas Delegat apologised for the harm he has caused.

“Nikolas takes full responsibility for his actions that night,” it says.

“He attended a restorative justice conference where he expressed his remorse, and he again apologises to the police officer, university security guard and all others concerned.

“Nikolas was in the first two month of his university study away from home in Dunedin.

“He made a bad decision in the heat of the moment which caused considerable harm to those affected, which he regrets.

“He also apologises to his family and those around him for the trouble he has caused them.”

But Delegat’s lawyer Mark Ryan said that an appeal against the conviction and sentence (he sought a discharge without conviction).

However, Mr Ryan confirmed Delegat, his family and legal team had an “open mind” about the possibility of appealing the sentence and conviction.

“I can’t rule that out,” he told the Otago Daily Times after the hearing. “It’s something that we’ll consider. `I will discuss it with my client and his family and see which way we go on that.”

While the sentence seems relatively light given the seriousness of the assault…

Delegat was sentenced to 300 hours community work for the police assault, 100 hours for assaulting a campus watch officer, 60 hours for wilful damage, and 60 hours for resisting arrest. He has also been ordered to pay $5000 emotional harm reparation to the police officer he punched.

…the impact of the conviction could be significant:

His lawyer said a conviction would prevent Delegat from becoming a licensed authorised financial adviser under the Financial Markets Authority – a career which he was pursuing – and from entering the United States to compete in yacht races.

But Judge Kevin Phillips rejected that due to the impact the attack had on Constable Kane…

…resulting in 15 hours of hospital treatment, several weeks off-duty, months of recuperation and ongoing issues with headaches. Kane is still being helped by colleagues on her road back to work, 18 months after the attack.

`Tell me about his financial position,” Judge Phillips said to Mr Ryan.

“He’s able to pay a fine,” Mr Ryan responded.

“I’m not talking about a fine. I’m talking about emotional harm reparation. This has almost destroyed her life,” the judge said.

Alcohol was involved, as it is in a lot of violent crime. But alcohol can’t excuse this sort of violence:

Judge Phillips said Delegat punched Const Kane with enough force to “render that officer into a state of unconsciousness”.

“[He] then punched her another three or four times … all aimed at the head,” he said.

The other responding officer, Constable Keith Early, described the violence of the assault in evidential briefs referenced by Judge Phillips, saying Delegat was “absolutely smashing her”.

For someone to react that viciously, whether drunk or not, there must have been some underlying tendency towards reactive violence. Many people who get drunk don’t get violent, but far too many do.

Delegat may have “made a bad decision in the heat of the moment”, and that may impact on his life significantly from now on, but his actions have also had a serious immediate and ongoing impact on the person he attacked, and could have easily been much worse due to his recklessness and viciousness.

Unfortunately this sort of violence and damage to people’s health and well being is common. This is just one case that happens to have received a lot of publicity and criticism, but violent crime goes through the courts day after day, week after week, year after year.

Something must change. Many people’s behaviour must change, and many more people’s attitude to violence must change. Same with alcohol use and abuse.

We are all a part of a far too violent society. Grizzling about the occasional case that gets media attention isn’t enough.

Here on Your NZ we can all do something about it, by not reacting badly to issues or people we disagree with, by not proposing or portraying violence as if it is acceptable, by not posting personal attacks (which can amount to a form of online violence), and by confronting violent behaviour – not with violent responses, but reminding of the need for respect of others and  the need for responsible behaviour.

And by setting an appropriate non-violent, non threatening example. We all have a part to play in this forum and in our society.

Nikolas Delegat and Constable Kane have had their lives significantly affected a few moments of deplorable violence. We can all learn from the resulting publicity.

Little then and now on Shewan

Andrew Little has made a bit of a habit of  jumping into criticisms of people associated in some way with National. One of those criticisms and a refusal to retract and apologise has resulted in Earl Hagaman filing defamation proceedings against Little this week.

In another example, in Parliament in April Little attacked tax expert John Shewan, who had just been appointed by the Government to investigate New Zealand’s handling of foreign trusts.

Andrew Little: Can he confirm that John Shewan and Don Brash advised the Bahamas that its financial services be zero-rated for value-added tax in order to protect the offshore services industry of that country?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. I am not aware of that level of detail.

Andrew Little: I seek leave to table an article from a Bahamas news outlet, not widely available—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member is seeking leave to table a document. I want to listen to what it is. If there are interjections coming from particularly my far-right quadrant, that makes it difficult. Would the member start his introduction again as to what the document is.

Andrew Little: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table a media report from the Bahamas, not widely available, on the advice given by John Shewan and Don Brash to the Bahamas Government to the effect that international financial services be treated as zero-rated to protect—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The document has been well and truly described. I will put the leave and the House will decide. Leave is sought to table that particular media article from the Bahamas. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Andrew Little: Does he not see that there is a fundamental problem with appointing a person to review our foreign trust laws who has advised a Government on how to protect its tax haven status?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member has proven over the last 2 weeks that he is completely unfit to judge who—

Little has now admitted he was wrong – late on Saturday away from Parliamentary attention.

RNZ: Little admits Bahamas accusation was wrong

Labour leader Andrew Little has admitted he was wrong when he said two months ago that John Shewan advised the Bahamas government on how to maintain the islands’ tax haven status.

Mr Little said when he was appointed that the appointment cast doubt on the Prime Minister’s judgement.

At the time of Mr Little’s original criticism, Mr Shewan told RNZ News the trip to the Bahamas had absolutely nothing to do with its status as a tax haven, and any suggestion of that was complete nonsense.

The Labour leader now says that after meeting with Mr Shewan, he accepts his explanation that while he advised the Bahamas government on tax matters he did not advise it on how to maintain its tax haven status.

Mr Little said statements he made in April were based on a report in a Bahamas newspaper.

Google can be an opposition politician’s friend – and can also lead to embarrassment if not used thoroughly and carefully.

NZ Herald quote Little in: Andrew Little: ‘I was wrong’

Labour leader Andrew Little has today backed down from comments that the man charged with investigating New Zealand’s offshore trusts industry had advised the Bahamas Government on protecting its financial sector from tax changes.

“In April, I made statements concerning advice provided to the Bahamas government by John Shewan, the person appointed to review the disclosure rule concerning foreign trusts in New Zealand. Those statements were based on a report in a Bahamas newspaper,” he said.

“After meeting with Mr Shewan, I accept his explanation that while he advised the Bahamas government on tax matters he did not advise them on how to maintain their tax haven status.”

That was posted at 5:52 pm on Saturday, not exactly a high profile time slot.

It’s good to see Little concede that he made a mistake and apologise, even if the timing of this looks a bit like he is trying to do it with a minimum of media attention.

And I wonder why it has taken Little so long to do this. It was pointed out at the time he made the accusations that he could have been wrong, and it should have been quick and easy to have checked out his facts back in April.

Little misses apology deadline

Andrew Little has not apologised by the deadline given by the Hagamans of Scenic Circle so the message to him is “see you in court”.

Stuff: Andrew Little refusing to apologise over his comments about a Niue resort deal

Little looks set to face defamation proceedings after ignoring an ultimatum and failing to apologise to the Hagamans.

In a statement from Lani Hagaman she said she would “see Mr Little in court” after he failed to retract and apologise his comments that a Niue resort deal they were awarded “stunk to high heaven”.

Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.

He will address the issues with the Hagamans once the Auditor-General has dealt with his request, either by “concluding an investigation or declining to conduct one” regarding a Niue resort deal.

The Hagamans said they hadn’t received anything from Little or his lawyers by 5pm – the deadline set by the Hagamans a week ago.

That’s confusing, saying the Hagamans saying they hadn’t received anything from Little or his lawyers, but saying Little had written to the Hagamans’ lawyers.

Regardless of that, no apology means Little faces defamation action, a higher risk than a back down and apology.

He may or may not get to choose the timing. Delaying it until election year may raise the risks.