Derek Handley releases his texts with Clare Curran

For some reason that is as yet unclear the Government resisted releasing communications between Clare Curran and Derek Handley, but Handley has now released the texts himself. These seem largely innocuous – “there’s no smoking gun” – but raise questions about what Jacinda Ardern claimed in Parliament.

NZH – CTO bungle: Emails, texts between Derek Handley, Clare Curran and Jacinda Ardern revealed

Entrepreneur Derek Handley said no one from the Government has told him why he was dropped as New Zealand’s chief technology officer after he’d accepted the job.

“There’s nothing untoward here, the actual recruitment process was really robust, I’ve nothing to hide,” he told the Herald in an exclusive interview.

In the face of persistent questions, speculation and innuendo over the recruitment, Handley sat on the sidelines and says he was waiting for the Government to clear things up.

But he says it’s been “open season” on him after his contract was terminated and the Government has chosen to keep a lid on his text messages and emails with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran.

Handley is today releasing his messages with Ardern and Curran to “clear the air” and says it clearly shows “there was nothing untoward or inappropriate” in them.

“There’s no smoking gun,” he said.

No one from the Government has explained to him why his contract was terminated on September 12.

“I think the average New Zealander in my situation would expect a lot more, whether it was from the Government or another organisation,” he said.

Stuff: Jilted CTO candidate Derek Handley disappointed by lack of explanation from Government

Entrepreneur Derek Handley says he has still not been given an explanation from the Government on why it withdrew its offer to appoint him as the country’s first chief technology officer.

“Neither have I heard personally from Minister Hipkins, Minister Woods or the Prime Minister during this challenging time, which has been disappointing from a Government that highlights compassion and kindness as hallmarks of their leadership,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Handley’s statement made it clear he was unhappy about how he had been treated.

“In a small country such as ours, we need as many energetic and passionate people as possible to work together to shape our future,” he said.

“The handling of the chief technology officer appointment and subsequent fall out in the last four weeks is likely to be be discouraging to anyone from the private sector contemplating making a contribution to New Zealand through a Government role,” he said.

Handley released a timeline of his dealings with the Government over the appointment, which was put on hold after it emerged that Curran had met privately with Handley in February and then “omitted” to mention that in response to a parliamentary question asking her to list the meetings she had had during the month.

Stuff have a detailed timeline of communications that suggest that Ardern may have misled Parliament – she was careful in how she spoke but left herseld iopen to further questioning – Handley de-jobbed, Government de-monied, Ardern statements debatable.



Handley de-jobbed, Government de-monied, Ardern statements debatable

RNZ: Govt to pay Derek Handley $100k after CTO offer retracted

Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley was offered the role of the country’s first Chief Technology Officer, but will now be paid out $100,000 after the offer was retracted by the government.

Megan Woods, the Minister for Government Digital Services, said a full-stop had been put on the process as the government reconsidered its approach to digital transformation.

Dr Woods could not say when Mr Handley was offered the role but she admitted it did not look good.

For now she is working towards providing Cabinet with a rescoped chief technology officer position in November because she thinks thereis merit in keeping the role.

Mr Handley, a New Zealand entrepreneur, will be paid out $100,000 – three months of the one-year contract for services – and $7500 for any set-up expenses.

In a message posted on LinkedIn, Mr Handley said it had been a distressing time for his family who moved to Auckland from New York for the role.

Ms Woods, who took over the ministerial role from the embattled Clare Curran, said she had asked officials to review the CTO position and to make sure there were no overlaps with any other existing roles.

“Today we’ve put a full stop on this process.

In February Ms Curran met with Mr Handley at her Beehive office to discuss his interest in the vacant role. She failed to record the meeting in her diary after she had used her personal Gmail account to arrange the catch-up and subsequently failed to record it in a written parliamentary question.

In a message posted on LinkedIn, Mr Handley said he was offered and accepted the job a month ago.

A month ago? If he has shifted from the US with his family to take up the now non-position then it would probably take that sort of time.

NZH on 24 August: Clare Curran sacked from Cabinet, PM Jacinda Ardern announces

The February meeting with entrepreneur Derek Handley was over his interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role.

It was held at 8pm in Curran’s Beehive office with nobody else present, and was not put in her diary.

The next month Curran responded to a written question from National but failed to disclose the meeting.

It was her second strike, after a similar omission in relation to a meeting with former Radio NZ boss Carol Hirschfeld earlier this year.

“That’s not good enough, and that’s why she’s been removed by Cabinet,” Ardern said at a press conference at her electorate office in Morningside this afternoon.

The Prime Minister was told of the issue on Monday, which was when Ardern said Curran realised her mistake.

The issue came up during the final stages of the appointment process for the CTO job vacancy.

The State Services Commission will examine the CTO appointment process to ensure the Handley-Curran meeting had no bearing on process or outcome.

24 August:

The SCC will report back before the appointment is made.

Handley remains a candidate for the CTO position. An appointment is expected to be made shortly.

14 September:

“Mr Handley said he was offered and accepted the job a month ago.”

The omissions created an “impression and perception that lacks transparency and is not something I will tolerate, particularly from a Minister for Open Government” (Ardern).

There seems to be some omissions in this story. Is that a lack of transparency that Ardern will tolerate?


More Curran emails, Handley offered job, O’Connor told off

This story keeps on rolling. Clare Curran has admitted ‘there may be more’ emails, and it is claimed that Derek Handley was offered the job of Chief Technology Officer but that was put on hold when the Curran story started coming out.

Stuff:  Clare Curran admits ‘there may be some more’ Derek Handley emails not yet released

Former Communications Minister Clare Curran says there “may be some more” emails between her and job applicant Derek Handley that have not been released.

When Curran was fired from Cabinet she proactively released a chain of emails, texts, and Twitter direct messages between her and Handley setting up the meeting.

But one of Handley’s emails indicates that other communications may have been exchanged, at one point saying he wants to check “one final time” about the meeting and that he appreciates Curran might not have the time to respond to his “emails”.

It’s also not clear where Handley got Curran’s mobile number or got direct instructions on how to access the Beehive after-hours, when the meeting took place.

Asked if she had released all of her emails with Handley on Tuesday, Curran said “there may be some more”.

“They are the full chain of emails that related to the meeting I had with him in February,” Curran said. “There may be some more.”

Curran said she was archiving all of her Gmail messages that were related to ministerial matters and they would be discoverable to journalists under the Official Information Act.

That sounds like an open invitation to journalists to make OIA requests to see the emails.

RNZ:  Clare Curran tells PM she will make Gmails available

Former government minister Clare Curran has assured Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern she is archiving all emails she sent using her personal Gmail account.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today work-related emails on Ms Curran’s G-mail account would be saved as official records and be discoverable under the Official Information Act.

Stuff: Derek Handley was offered CTO job before it was put on hold, says source

Entrepreneur Derek Handley was offered the job of chief technology officer by the Government, according to an informed source, raising the question of whether he could be entitled to compensation if the appointment is not now confirmed.

The recruitment process remains in limbo after former communications minister Clare Curran admitted last month that she had “omitted” to disclose a February meeting with Handley when responding to a written parliamentary question.

Handley was understood to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the $400,000 job as the country’s first national chief technology officer (CTO), but it was not previously clear whether he had actually been offered the role.

An informed source said he had been, but had no information on whether he had then accepted.

The appointment process is believed to have been stopped in the same week that he was due to be announced as the successful candidate.

Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern scolds Ohariu MP Greg O’Connorfor saying things could have been handled better…

ODT (NZME): MP told off for Curran resignation comments

Labour backbencher Greg O’Connor has received a “stern phone call” from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after criticising her handling of Clare Curran’s resignation.

O’Connor told Heather du Plessis-Allan on NewstalkZB today that Ardern’s handling of Curran’s decision to resign on Friday “could have been done better”.

“Yeah it could have been done better, I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. I’ll tell you what, it will be done better next time,” he said.

A spokesman for Ardern confirmed that Ardern gave O’Connor “a stern phone call” about his comments tonight.

“She has relayed her disappointment to Greg O’Connor around his remarks, and he has affirmed his support and confidence in the Prime Minister,” the spokesman said.

…but separately admits that she could have been handled things better.

RNZ: Lessons to be learned from Curran controversy – Ardern

At her post Cabinet briefing she was asked whether she could have handled the whole situation better.

“I, on reflection, can learn from some of the things along the journey of government. I don’t think you’d want a leader that couldn’t learn from the past.”

I wonder if she told herself off.

Interview: the digital divide and inequality

This morning on Newshub Nation:  Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley talks to Lisa Owen about the digital divide, and how technology could be increasing inequality.

InternetNZ: NZ’s digital divide now on display

InternetNZ has teamed up with the 20/20 Trust to build an interactive map called the Digital Divide Map – which shows the different digital divides facing New Zealanders and their communities.

You can see Internet infrastructure access, digital skill gaps and socioeconomic divides broken down by area units across New Zealand.

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter says it’s important that people are aware of the digital divides in New Zealand.

“Some people don’t have access to the Internet, some are not skilled enough to use it and some cannot afford an Internet connection.

“This is something that we want to see fixed. The Internet has so many benefits for us all and no New Zealander should be denied the potential that the Internet offers us,” says Carter.

The purpose of the map is to help identify these divides, understand them, and therefore help local, regional and national decision makers address the divides.

The map also pinpoints known digital inclusion projects and local community resources to address digital skill gaps. We hope that by sharing these digital inclusion projects and resources, they can act as models and inspiration for other areas.

The Digital Divide map.

On Handley two weeks ago: Digital divide holding back New Zealand – tech entrepreneur

In its report Solving Digital Divides Together, InternetNZ claims that “infrastructure access is no longer the primary access issue for New Zealanders. 93% of Kiwis tell us they have the Internet.

in a TechWeek speech earlier this week Derek Handley, whose roles include Adjunct Executive Professor at AUT, board member at SkyTV, and Chief Innovation Officer at a New York-based start-up studio Human Ventures, said New Zealand will fail to become a leading digital nation if it doesn’t address the number of children without internet access in their homes.

During a visit to the Otara Library in Manukau he discovered that the most popular attendance time was directly after school, so that the students could use the library’s computers and internet.

“Many of them (students) use cheap Android phones without data plans, to connect to WiFi – to search, type up essays and assignments, on their tiny screens,” he says. “Many of the homes they go back to might have only a handful of books. In their homes, they are barely connected to the present – let alone the future.”

Handley contrasted that experience with his own five-year-old son, whom he says is “digitally roaming every day creatively and in his own way”.

“If we believe, as I do and I have witnessed, that the internet and a tablet accelerates the learning and discovery of a young child, orders of magnitude beyond what a simple book can – we have on one hand a child growing

The Government also pledged to create a National Chief Technology Officer and is currently recruiting again for the role, following a failed attempt earlier this year. While Handley positively referenced the CTO role in his speech, he later told Computerworld that he has not put his hand up, noting that he is still living in New York.

Tech Entrepreneur Derek Handley “For the last couple of decades, clearly, no government authentically, genuinely committed to creating a pathway for a digital or innovative technology-oriented nation.”

“There are so many ideas and services and concepts that should exist in New Zealand — that we should be leading — that we’re not.”

… says we need to ensure access to internet in the same way we ensure access to water in order to close ‘the digital divide’

…on the Government’s hunt for a Chief Technology Officer – “The fact that it even exists, the fact that it will be working with the Prime Minister and the Minister, to me, is a symbol and a signal that we get it and that it’s important.”

He sort of sound like he could be interested in the job, saying ‘I’m working in the US’ but intends coming back to New Zealand soon.

He could be a good fit for the job, but he expressed no specific ideas on how to ensure the people with none or little online access could join the electronic revolution.

Just like it is difficult to force some people to read and write (or some families to support and encourage education), you can’t make people use the Internet if they don’t want to.


Q & A – Super Fund, and fossil fuels and affordable housing

On Q & A today:

  • Political Editor Corin Dann has an extended interview with New Zealand Super Fund chief executive Adrian Orr. Why the fund is getting out of fossil fuels – plus his ambition for affordable housing.

Is the Super Fund going to move towards social investments in a big way? They have enough money to potentially make a big difference, and possible big losses.

  • Whena Owen looks at the state of our billion dollar forestry industry – it’s dominated by foreign operators and much of the processing is sent overseas – can we do better?


  • New Zealand tech entrepreneur Derek Handley on how to grow great entrepreneurs.


Derek Handley on doing business better

‘Tech entrepreneur’ Derek Handley was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday.

He talked about significant changes in approaches to doing business over the past twenty years, with a focus on doing good for society and the environment rather than just making money.

You’re involved in a project with Richard Branson called the B Team, now it’s aimed at getting companies to tackle social problems, isn’t it, through business. But I’m wondering why should companies focus on doing good in the world as well as doing well financially? Why is that beneficial?

Well, first of all it’s not just social it’s also environmental. I think the overall vision is that business is a stakeholder in the whole of the community and the whole society, and if you just silo making money and not worry about how you make it and how it impacts society and how it impacts the environment, that’s a very last century view on the world.

The view that we have with the B Team is that the way you make money, the way you create wealth, must have positive impacts for society and at the same time, given the challenges we have with the environment, help innovate and solve those issues.

And that in fact will become the new way of competing, the new way of differentiating yourself.

So we think that it’s not like an either/or, it’s like an and/and, and actually that that’s the way that people want to lead and the way that young people want to work.

While capitalism has never solely been about making money regardless of any social or environmental cost it is evolving towards promoting a greater good for society.

There will always be some who see wealth-seeking as all important. There will always be some who like to display their wealth via  trinket status symbols like large houses and expensive cars.

But there is more personal satisfaction or prestige for some in demonstrating social and environmental responsibilities.

But is it a problem convincing other people that that’s a good idea?

I think in the last 20 years it’s been building, right. But if you look at the last year we’ve already had an enormous amounts of traction.

So if you look at Apple for example, Steve Jobs never really worried about these things, but Tim Cook has come out very strong, he came out a few months ago asking any investors, any hedge funds who didn’t believe in their environmental policies to sell their stock. That’s really bold leadership.

We have more and more CEOs and global leaders who are doing that in business because they understand you can’t just leave your values at the door, go to work, screw up the planet, not worry about the impacts on society or the workers you have in China, make money and be happy.

So I think the more Tim Cooks that come out of the woodwork, the more this movement will start to pick up.

Peer pressure to be more than selfishly rich can work amongst rich and successful business people.

In saying that, you have described capitalism as a teenager that’s just figuring itself out, so I’m wondering, how do you think that will look when it’s all grown up?How will it look and behave when capitalism’s grown up?

I think it looks like a merger of the things that we currently silo. So we currently silo politics, civil society, non-profits, business and we think of them as discrete things.

And I think the future looks like a hybrid – if you’re going to be an entity in the world you need to do it sustainably, you need to create revenue that will keep you alive, you need to address social issues and make money.

So what’s happening is these sectors are starting to merge and they’re starting to play together. So business will look more and more like different sectors that we traditionally think are not business. And that’s what I think, you know, is currently happening.

It’s not new but there seems to be good growth in doing business better.

Market regulations and state imposed socialism are necessary parts of the modern capitalism-socialism mix but common sense promoting common good on a voluntary basis could become a powerful factor in getting a better balance.

A better society and a healthier environment are good for business.