Hauhama report to be released today

This looks like an awkward report being dumped right on the Christmas break.

Stuff: High-ranking cop Wally Haumaha belittled staff, report to say

The police watchdog has found deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha​ belittled and acted inappropriately to two women staff.

Stuff understands Haumaha faces criticism in the long-awaited Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report due Thursday, which will find he acted improperly during a high-pressure Government project in 2016.

The report, expected to be released at midday, will be one of three to come from a series of allegations that have beleaguered Haumaha since his promotion to deputy commissioner in May.

It is understood aspects of the findings, which differ from those of a prior Government inquiry, are likely to be contested and challenged.

That may ensure the issue remains alive into next year.

The report does not determine workplace bullying occurred, but does find in two instances he behaved inappropriately and unprofessionally towards two staff who subsequently left the joint project at Police Headquarters.

What actually constitutes ‘bullying’ in a workplace is something that needs further discussion. ‘Inappropriately’ and ‘unprofessionally’ could also mean a wide variety of things.

During one meeting, he belittled and humiliated a staffer.

Two other instances of alleged bullying were found to be unsubstantiated.

Haumaha, after taking legal advice, asked fellow officers and others to support him – deemed improper – and shared inappropriate information about a complainant.

If this report is due to be released today why is stuff reporting on it already?

A State Services Commission review into the  handling of bullying allegations by the Ministry of Justice and Corrections is also expected to be released on Thursday.

There is also a Parliament review to look into bullying, harassment of staff

The Speaker has launched an external review of bullying and harassment of staff at Parliament dating back to October 2014.

Mr Mallard said the review will be carried out by an independent external reviewer, Debbie Francis, who has done similar work with organisations such as the Defence Force.

He said bullying and harassment were unacceptable in any workplace and the review was designed to work out what could be done to improve the parliamentary workplace.

And…

The National Party is already doing its own internal review of its culture, following allegations that former National MP Jami-Lee Ross acted inappropriately with staff and another MP.

A good thing to look at how to improve employer and MP behaviours


From the report:

Maggie Barry bullying accusations continue

An ex-employee of Maggie Barry is continuing his campaign against Barry.

I must admit I am struggling to not be turned off by all of this, but there are I guess some important issues being raised, like:

  • bullying by MPs
  • accusations of bullying being prosecuted by media
  • ex-staff going public
  • what actually constitutes workplace or MP office bullying

RNZ are giving all this quite an airing this morning with an interview of the ex-staffer who claims to have been bullied, but also a statement from another staffer who has quite a different experience.

Maggie Barry accused of bullying staff

Another MP has been accused of bullying, this time National’s Maggie Barry. she disputes the allegations. This further puts the spotlight on the pressures of being an MP, and whether some MPs abuse their power. There will always be an unavoidable power imbalance, but the important thing is that that is not abused.

NZ Herald: Former staff accuse National MP Maggie Barry of bullying

National MP Maggie Barry has been twice investigated over bullying claims this year – including accusations she expected staff to do political party work on taxpayer time, which would be unlawful.

The Weekend Herald can reveal two employees in Barry’s four-person office have accused her of bullying since May – one in a personal grievance complaint, and the other during the investigation of that complaint.

Barry concedes there were issues raised by former staff, but they were resolved “by mutual agreement” and “there was no finding that bullying or harassment had occurred”.

And she is backed up by a different former staff member who said she never saw any bullying behaviour from Barry, though she added that everyone has different ideas about what constitutes bullying.

I think that is an important point. One person could feel ‘bullied’ in a situation that another person sees as a normal type of employer/employee relationship.

Here different employees have different views on how things happened.

The Weekend Herald has obtained documents which show that during its investigations in August this year, Parliamentary Service heard allegations that Barry:

• swore and yelled at staff;
• called an employee “stupid”;
• used derogatory terms about other elected officials, which made staff uncomfortable;
• referred to people with mental health issues using offensive terms like “nutter”;
• discussed her employees’ sexuality in the workplace;
• expected staff would do work for the National Party during office hours, which they felt unable to refuse while knowing it was wrong, because they were scared.

One staffer told investigators he believed there was a huge power imbalance and that Barry was “terrifying” and could “destroy my career”.

When questioned by Parliamentary Service in August, Barry denied all of the allegations.

“In particular, she disputes the claims regarding her attitude and comments attributed regarding people with mental health issues,” the investigation notes from her interview read.

“[She says] she does not use profanities and doesn’t swear or behave inappropriately… MB absolutely refutes that she expects staff to complete party work during work time.”

However, the Weekend Herald has heard recordings which appear to show Barry swearing in a work context, and others where she appears to call a local board member “barking”, one a “waste of space”, and another “a duplicitous piece of shite”.

Again, some people may see ‘colourful language’ as acceptable, others may think otherwise.

It has also seen messages from Barry – who rarely used email but instead spoke into the voice-to-text function on her phone – appearing to request political work be completed during office hours.

Examples included writing her column “Maggie’s Messenger”, where she encouraged people to vote for Northcote MP Dan Bidois, and completing a “Super Blues” brochure for an over-60s National Party conference.

A former staffer who came forward to the Weekend Herald told Parliamentary Service that, during some weeks, up to half his work was party work. Parliamentary rules strictly stipulate party work is not part of support staff’s job.

According to her interview with investigators, Barry knew it was against the rules.

But in a different recording obtained by the Weekend Herald, Barry said the opposite to the staffer the day he was due to give evidence for his co-worker’s personal grievance case.

In it she said writing brochures on office time was “legitimate”, while acknowledging the investigators would not be impressed if they found out.

“It’s how the world goes around,” she said. “You know the lay of the land.”

I think that politicians have been bending this rule for a long time. I know it has happened, but I don’t know how common it has been.

When questioned by the Weekend Herald yesterday, Barry said Parliamentary Service had looked into allegations from former staff.

“The allegations were vigorously denied and disputed and were thoroughly investigated by Parliamentary Service. There was no finding that bullying or harassment had occurred.

“The issues have all been resolved professionally and by mutual agreement. I have wished the employees concerned well and so I am surprised to see they are being repeated in a partial, selective and incomplete way.”

She said she had “constructive and positive employee relationships”, and may refer the recordings of her to police.

Secret recordings of MPs (and staff as per Todd Barclay) seems to be a trend, and a worrying one.

At the time, leader Simon Bridges said he didn’t believe there was an environment of abuse and power within the party. Barry also spoke out, saying bullying behaviour had “no place” in National.

The former staffer who spoke to the Weekend Herald said hearing that had made him feel sick.

“When you’re the subject of bullying investigations it takes gall to claim that Jami-Lee Ross was a one-off, that there are no other bullies that the party is aware of,” he said.

But the staffer said the final straw for going public was when he saw his former job advertised and feeling “awful” that the next person would go through the same experiences he had.

“I just couldn’t take it. Parliamentary Service as an employer has an obligation to ensure its staff are safe. They can’t guarantee that if they recruit someone to work for Maggie,” he claimed.

He said Parliamentary Service clearly knew about Barry’s behaviour – his manager from the service had even warned him during his induction Barry could be a difficult boss.

When he later complained to the manager that he was having trouble, he says he was told to document any inappropriate behaviour – which is why he had the recordings.

Ok, maybe appropriate, especially if something serious was revealed.

The former staffer supportive of Barry, who did not want her name published, said that Barry could be “firm”, but had never seen anything resembling bullying from Barry – though she added that everyone had different definitions.

“On different days, people have different sensitivities, and people have different lines of what they can and can’t tolerate.”

She was surprised when the personal grievance case surfaced and the other former staffer stopped coming to work.

“It came as a huge shock to me that that particular person didn’t step into the office again. I was blindsided. I was told not to contact him by Parliamentary Service. I had no idea.”

She also said that new staff members sometimes mistook parliamentary work for party work, and it often took time to realise what material, for example, should and should not carry a National Party logo.

Clare Curran was exposed in Parliament this week when it was revealed one of her electorate staff gave material to Work & Income offices that had Labour logos on it.

One thing is obvious – MPs and their workplace practices are suddenly under a lot of scrutiny.

Rankin, Ardern, Peters respond to Parliament’s bullying and harassment review

The behaviour of MP versus MP is not included in the Review into bullying and harassment at Parliament, it is dealing with staff only, but it has raised the issue of poor behaviour from MPs.

The Speaker Trevor Mallard’s past behaviour in Parliament has been pointed out, including a conviction for fighting with another MP and attacks on a consultant. In 2007 Mallard pleads guilty to fighting, says sorry to consultant

Mallard pleaded not guilty to an assault charge, but today pleaded guilty to the lesser fighting charge and agreed to pay $500 to the Salvation Army’s Bridge drug and alcohol programme.

Shortly after the conclusion of the hearing, Mallard apologised in Parliament to Ms Leigh, who he had been accused of unfairly attacking under parliamentary privilege.

And yesterday, in response to Mallard launching the review – ‘He was a bully’: Christine Rankin accuses ‘crude’ Trevor Mallard of bullying

Former Work and Income NZ chief executive Christine Rankin says she was subjected to a campaign of bullying from senior ministers who wanted her out – and that Speaker Trevor Mallard was among them.

“I think anyone can look back on my situation 18 years ago and accept that it was the biggest bullying situation that has ever happened in this country that we know of,” she told Newshub.

She says she was taunted and comments were made about the way she looked. She claims she was even told that her earrings were a “sexual come-on”.

“Incidents have occurred over many years in these buildings which are unacceptable,” said Mr Mallard when announcing the inquiry earlier this week.

Ms Rankin says she was relentlessly bullied by senior Labour Party ministers after they took power in 1999, and that group included now-Speaker Mr Mallard.

“He was a bully,” she told Newshub. “They were all bullies and they revelled in it.”

She says ministers would whisper and laugh about her during meetings – with Mr Mallard using language that still makes her too uncomfortable to repeat.

“He was crude and rude and it was directed at me.”

Mallard has probably changed a lot since then, especially since he took on the responsibility of Speaker. His past behaviour shouldn’t stop him from addressing that sort of behaviour now. Tolerance of harassment has significantly diminished.

Parliament should set an example (a good example) to the population, and the review is a good to do this.

Hopefully MPs will learn something from it. Robust debate is an essential part of a healthy democracy, but in the past MP behaviour has gone far further than that with attacks on opponents capable of being seen as bullying and harassment.

Quite contrasting reactions from Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters.

NZ Herald: Winston Peters has ‘no idea’ why bullying review into Parliament is taking place

Most MPs welcomed the review, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said Parliament was not immune to such issues.

“It is high pressure. There’s long hours. There’s no excuse, though, for that to result in poor behaviour, so it’s worthwhile to undertake this exercise,” Ardern said.

But someone’s nose seems to be out of joint – or perhaps there are feelings of guilt.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has poured cold water on Parliament’s review of workplace bullying and harassment, saying he has “no idea” why it is taking place.

Peters said he had not been consulted, adding that being told in advance did not amount to consultation.

“I’ve got no idea why this is being requested by the Speaker at all. I have not been consulted on that matter, so I’m not prepared to make any comment at all.”

Asked if he supported the review, Peters said: “We’ll find out when the review happens.”

He joked that the media had subjected him to bullying.

“I’m going to tell the interviewer that the only person being seriously bullied around this place for a long time is one Winston Peters – by people like you.”

Given Peters’ use of the media to attack people that’s ironic.

And given Peters’ manner towards journalists trying to interview him the question of bullying could easily be put to him – but Peters has long used attack as a form of defence.

At least Mallard has recognised moves to address and reduce poor MP behaviour, seemingly having learned from his own mistakes and unsatisfactory behaviour in the past.

If anything Peters is getting worse now he is in one of the most powerful positions he has attained in Parliament. A sense that his longevity in Parliament gives him some sort of right to act as he pleases highlights how out of step his combative and cantankerous approach is in the modern world of politics and in society in general).

Review into bullying and harassment at Parliament

The Speaker, Trevor Mallard, has announced an external review into the bullying and harassment of staff at Parliament.

Note that this doesn’t address behaviour between MPs in Parliament or via the media, and it doesn’t address bullying and harassment of MPs by media.


Independent review launched into bullying and harassment at Parliament

Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, announced today that an independent external review into bullying and harassment of staff within the Parliamentary workplace will take place.

“Bullying and harassment are not acceptable in any workplace. It’s important that people at Parliament feel respected, safe, and supported each day coming to work,” the Speaker said.

The review will begin in early December 2018 and is expected to take at least four months to complete. It will look to:

  • Establish whether bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment) has occurred and, if it has, the nature and extent of this towards staff employed or engaged since the 51st Parliament (since October 2014). This includes contract staff, who regularly work on precinct, and former staff who no longer work in the Parliamentary workplace.
  • Review how previous complaints have been handled; whether policies, procedures, and related controls are effective; how they compare to best practice and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015; and whether there are any barriers to reporting or making complaints
  • Assess the culture of Parliament as a place to work and allow for consideration of other matters brought up in the review.

A draft report, with findings and recommendations, will be presented to the Speaker and the Chief Executive or General Manager of participating Parliamentary agencies. Following the delivery of the report, the agencies will consider how to action the report’s recommendations.

At an appropriate time, the report will be made public.

Who is leading the review?

Debbie Francis, an experienced consultant and independent external reviewer, will carry out the review. Debbie has previously led performance improvement reviews at Parliament, and elsewhere on behalf of the State Services Commission. Her recent work on bullying and harassment at the New Zealand Defence Force will be of particular value to this review.

The Speaker is sponsoring the review and will work with the agencies for which he is responsible to address the findings.

Participating in the review

The review will provide current and former Parliamentary staff with an opportunity to share any relevant experiences of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, within the Parliamentary workplace. The review covers people employed or engaged by the Parliamentary Service, Ministerial and Secretariat Services, and the Office of the Clerk since the 51st Parliament.

 

Law harassment survey

Most criminal lawyers have experienced or seen bullying or harassment in the profession, and the majority of offenders are judges.

RNZ:  Judges worst offenders in law harassment survey

Criminal Bar Association vice-president Elizabeth Hall, who instigated the survey, said the “staggering” results were “obviously of deep concern to both the association and the Law Society”.

Types of abuse include shouting, insults and threats, and nearly one in three had experienced unwelcome sexual attention.

In nearly 65 percent of cases, the person doing the harassing or bullying was a judge.

Fewer than 17 percent of respondents made an official complaint – mainly because they believed it would not make any difference and they were afraid of the repercussions.

Of those who did complain, just 6 percent felt this fixed the problem.

  • Of the 283 respondents (181 women, 102 men), about 60 percent had been in practice more than nine years
  • 88.1 percent had personally experienced or witnessed bullying or harassment in the last four years
  • Most commonly type of bullying:
    – mockery 69.2%
    -invalid criticism 60%
    – shouting 58%
    – bullying based on age/ experience 57%
    – personal insults 45%
    – unwelcome sexual attention 28.5%
    – threats 27.3%
  • Effect of the bullying/harassment: stress, loss of confidence, anxiety, fear, moved jobs

The law profession was not alone in having with problems with harassment or abuse, Ms Hall said.

“But what is unique to the sphere of criminal practice is this very entrenched hierarchical structure governed by people who have come up through this system in which you go down to court and have strips torn off you by the judge or opposing council, you patch yourself up and do it again the next day.

“That was the practice 20 or 30 years ago – but times have changed, people have moved on and that sort of thing is no longer acceptable.”

Satire versus bullying

I hadn’t heard of Terry Pratchett until I saw this quote at The Standard:

There could be some truth in that.

Another Pratchett quote on bullying (from Hogfather):

“A bully, thought Susan. A very small, weak, very dull bully, who doesn’t manage any real bullying because there’s hardly anyone smaller and weaker than him, so he just makes everyone’s lives just that little bit more difficult…”

He has a satirical record:  Terry Pratchett and the Art of Satire:

Under his hand, the entire concept of fantasy changed, and satire was put to better use than ever before; but just how did Pratchett combine both into such a phenomenally successful formula?

Pratchett also uses the medium of his Discworld novels to examine more serious issues concerning our society today: bribery and corruption are a major feature of his Discworld, especially amongst the ruling elite.

Human behaviour is examined in all of his novels – even his children’s books, such as The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, where the society of intelligent rats are made the heroes rather that of the townspeople who are trying to kill them. Comparing the two- with the implication that is it the rat that are the truly educated ones rather than the humans- allows Pratchett to make intellectual points in both a funny and parodic way that might not be possible in another setting.

Here, satire is not only a comedic device but also a way in which to examine our society.

Through his juxtaposition of the modern and the fantastic we can laugh, not only at the society he creates but also, obliquely, at ourselves. In Pratchett’s hands, the art of satire is a way in which we can examine ourselves more clearly.

Satire is a useful way of examining and exposing those in power, politicians.

But it can also be misused as a means of attacking politicians – and political supporters.

From Oxford:

satire
The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

bully
A person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.

Politicians (and political supporters) sometimes deserve ridicule, and satire is a fair and reasonable means of doing that.

But politicians are also vulnerable to being coerced, intimidated or harmed by unfair and untrue attack and ridicule.

‘Satire’ is sometimes used as an excuse for dirty politics.

Workplace bullying

From patupaiarehe:


I posted this link last week Alan, and I’m going to do it again. It seems relevant, IMHO, seeing as how ‘confidential settlements’ are being discussed…

The people at the heart of this story are silenced. They have been paid off to keep quiet.

It is all part of the emerging New Zealand silent class. These people have won cases against employers, but as part of their settlement, they are gagged.

There is an emerging culture of paid off silence across the country. Journalists can’t detail the stories as few will risk whatever outcome they have worked to achieve, by going public with their own story.

For most, the settlement will be the only positive to emerge from the damage inflicted at their place of work.

They are required to shut up because the truth is damaging. They are shut down because employers do not want the public knowing the truth. Councils, universities, hospitals and others want to protect their image and will manipulate settlements in a bid to mask the true level of workplace turnover.

Today these silent New Zealanders walk our streets with knowledge and experience that can not, and will not be shared. Yet, the very experience they have if shared publicly, may offer solutions to the workplace violence which has been described as nearing epidemic proportions.

Psychopathic workplace intimidation, (I refuse to use the word ‘bullying’ as I feel it belittles the violent reality of what happens at work), is real. The damage is long lasting and for some staff it is the workplace equivalent of post traumatic stress disorder.

You don’t need a mortar shell to go off to bring you close to break down. A dedicated workplace psychopath can do it all, just more slowly and deliberately.

Many reading this column will know of the creep of fear that occurs at weekends when they have to face the Monday morning dread, still days away.

PWI is widespread across New Zealand working life.  It is planned, malicious, vicious and designed to belittle and disempower.  It is always a power game and one that is often disguised in language and conduct designed to mirror the appearance of successful management culture.

We welcome the popularity of intimidatory violent conduct into our homes and lives when Gordon Ramsey the chef who abuses staff for ratings is on TV. Other reality TV programmes from Survivor to My Kitchen Rules to The Bachelor include public put downs, conniving closed-door conduct, exclusion tactics, backstabbing and humiliation as a routine part of entertainment.

Popular culture has made its way to the workplace where identical tactics of humiliation and intimidation are seen as the new wave of management.

Alongside the emergence of workplace bullying has been the growth of a side industry; a lucrative business of independent consultants helping people making claims of work place intimidation and violence. These consultants are the New Zealand equivalent of ambulance chasing lawyers.

And that is not to say they don’t have a job to do. They do, but when money changes hands from employer to independent employment consultant, the relationship is business and it immediately stops being independent. Those who pay – say.

And those consulting companies that want future work advising employers on their work-place intimidation practises are unlikely to get future work if they are constantly found to be siding with employees taking employers to task.

The Labour Department needs to treat the issue seriously and become the arbiter of workplace issues where intimation and violence is used against staff. It is a workplace hazard and it needs the same independent governance and oversight as any other issue. The conflict of interest between paid employment consultant and employers must be removed.

That is edited a bit, the whole article is at Sunlive:  Opening up about workplace bullying

Harmful communications and Your NZ

From today people who believe they have experienced online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying van submit complaints to the appointed agency, Netsafe, to try to stop the attacks.

Your NZ may have to deal with this if complaints are received under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. I will do what I can to ensure comments posted here don’t breach the Act and moderation may be necessary to do this.

Now the Act has taken effect it is important to note:

What are harmful digital communications?

Harmful digital communications take a variety of forms such as private messages or content that others can see. It includes when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages;
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours about you; and
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos of you.

What are the 10 communication principles?

The 10 principles work as a guide for how people should communicate online. Netsafe and the District Court will look at these when deciding if a digital communication breaches the Act.

The 10 principles say that a digital communication should not:

  1. disclose sensitive personal facts about a person;
  2. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  3. be grossly offensive;
  4. be indecent or obscene;
  5. be used to harass a person;
  6. make a false allegation;
  7. breach confidences;
  8. incite or encourage anyone to send a deliberately harmful message;
  9. incite or encourage a person to commit suicide; and
  10. denigrate a person’s colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

I will moderate comments here that I believe risk breaching those principles. I don’t want that sort of behaviour here anyway, but if I don’t then it puts this site at risk of breaching the Act.

If you believe that anyone has posted comments here that breach any of these principles then contact me. You can do this either through comments or directly:

  • Email: YourNZContact@gmail.com
  • Phone: 027 327 3468

I will deal with it as soon as I can. I’m not always available so it may take a few hours but it will be as soon as possible.

If I decide a comment here breaches the Act I will edit or delete the comment. If I can’t deal with it properly immediately the comment may be deleted in the first instance and then later edited and reinstated.

The aim of Your NZ has always been to allow robust discussion but not to be nasty or abusive. The Act does not change this approach, but it provides different means of dealing with abuse.

Some abuse is obvious, but sometimes it can get tricky. One person’s ‘joke’ can be perceived by others as abusive or offensive.

We don’t have to be prudes but we should be decent humans in the way we interact here. Most of it should be common sense.

It shouldn’t change things much here as I done my best to maintain reasonable standards already, sometimes in very trying circumstances.

If this site was to be subject again to the sort of attacks experienced last year by a couple of malicious visitors using multiple identities then I won’t rule out making complaints to Netsafe myself.

For more details see Harmful Digital Communications or Netsafe’s website.


Your NZ has already experienced an attempt to gag the site and threats were made to imprison me prematurely under the ACT. A vexatious court order didn’t comply with the procedures specified in the Act, was nearly a year before this part of the Act came into effect (today), and relied on evidence planted in anonymous comments here. When this was pointed out to the Court it was immediately thrown out.The vexatious incompetents who attempted this are some of the worst online abusers I have seen, frequently breaching the principles of the Act.

Harmful Digital Communications

The Harmful Digital Communications Act has taken a long time to come into force, but from today anyone who is experiencing online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying can report to the appointed agency, Netsafe, who will “receive, assess and investigate complaints”. What they will do to help targets of abuse and how effective this will be is yet to be seen.

From Netsafe’s website:


Anyone who is experiencing online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying can get help from Netsafe thanks to the Harmful Digital Communications Act (the Act). Netsafe will receive, assess and investigate complaints related to harmful digital communications from 21 November, 2016.

UNDERSTANDING HARMFUL DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS

The Act tackles some of the ways people use technology to hurt others. It aims to prevent and reduce the impact of cyber-bullying, harassment, revenge porn and other forms of abuse and intimidation.

The Act provides quick and affordable ways to get help for people receiving serious or repeated harmful digital communications. A digital communication is harmful if it makes someone seriously emotionally distressed, and if it is a serious breach of one or more of the 10 communication principles in the Act.

What are harmful digital communications?

Harmful digital communications take a variety of forms such as private messages or content that others can see. It includes when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages;
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours about you; and
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos of you.

What are the 10 communication principles?

The 10 principles work as a guide for how people should communicate online. Netsafe and the District Court will look at these when deciding if a digital communication breaches the Act.

The 10 principles say that a digital communication should not:

  1. disclose sensitive personal facts about a person;
  2. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  3. be grossly offensive;
  4. be indecent or obscene;
  5. be used to harass a person;
  6. make a false allegation;
  7. breach confidences;
  8. incite or encourage anyone to send a deliberately harmful message;
  9. incite or encourage a person to commit suicide; and
  10. denigrate a person’s colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

How to get help?

If you are concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you or someone you know needs help with a harmful digital communication, contact Netsafe toll free on 0508 NETSAFE or complete a complaint form at netsafe.org.nz/report.

Netsafe can look into your complaint and tell you if there’s anything else you can do to stop the abuse and stay safe. We may also work with you and the person harassing you to get them to stop.

If Netsafe can’t resolve things, you can apply to the District Court for help – but you have to have tried to resolve things with Netsafe first.

How can the District Court help?

The court deals with cases of serious or repeated harmful digital communications that Netsafe hasn’t been able to resolve.

The court will look into whether the person harassing you has seriously breached, will seriously breach or has repeatedly breached one or more of the 10 communication principles. It will also consider how people responded to the advice Netsafe provided.

The court has the power to order people to stop their harmful digital communications and take action including:

  • Ordering material to be taken down;
  • Ordering someone to publish a correction, an apology or give you a right of reply;
  • Ordering online content hosts (like social media/telecommunication companies or blog owners) to release the identity of the person behind an anonymous communication; and
  • Order name suppression to protect your identity or the identity of anyone else involved in the dispute.

Anyone who ignores the District Court’s orders can be prosecuted and penalised. The penalty is up to six months in prison or a fine up to $5,000. Companies can be fined up to $20,000.

What if the situation is really serious?

The Act also includes a criminal offence to penalise the most serious perpetrators. It is illegal to send messages and post material online that deliberately cause somebody serious emotional distress.

Police will handle these most serious cases. They may prosecute a person or company if:

  • they intended the communication to cause harm;
  • it’s reasonable to expect that a person in your position would be harmed by it; and
  • you were harmed.

The court will consider a variety of factors including how widely the material spread and whether what was said was true or not. The penalties for this offence are a fine of up to $50,000 or up to two years’ jail for an individual, and up to $200,000 for a body corporate.


How this affects  Your NZ and you if you comment here: Harmful communications and Your NZ