Controversy over inquiry into controversial appointment of deputy police commissioner

The appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Commissioner of Police has become quite controversial, first sparked by strong criticism from victim supporter Louise Nicholas, and now through NZ First’s involvement in an inquiry into the appointment,

NZH: Louise Nicholas ‘hit the roof’ when Wally Haumaha appointed as deputy police commissioner

Louise Nicholas has worked for years to help change police culture but called for a crisis meeting when Wally Haumaha – friends of the men she accused of raping her -was appointed deputy commissioner.

New deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha questioned why Louise Nicholas publicly accused his friends in the police of raping her in the 1980s and continued to support them after the scandal broke, according to interviews with fellow officers.

One officer told the 2004 Operation Austin investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha, who was appointed to the senior role by Police Minister Stuart Nash last month, described Nicholas’ allegations as “a nonsense” and that “nothing really happened and we have to stick together”.

Nicholas, who now works with the police advising new recruits and supporting victims of abuse, was so angry to hear of Haumaha’s appointment that she demanded a meeting with him and Commissioner Mike Bush to voice her opposition.

“I didn’t hold back. I said ‘I’ve read your statement, Wally, and I know what you said. You put it out there about how wonderful these men were’,” said Nicholas.

Police Minister Stuart Nash has been dumped inadvertently into a difficult situation. RNZ:

Police Minister Stuart Nash said while he was was unaware of Mr Haumaha’s comments, he did know Mr Haumaha had been interviewed during Operation Austin.

“The comments are deeply disappointing and are unacceptable. DC Haumaha has learned from that and has gone on to do substantial and worthwhile work to improve the safety of women and youth.”

On Friday Deputy Police Commissioner issues apology for comments made about Louise Nicholas rape case in 2004

Today the Deputy Commissioner apologised for comments he made in 2004. His full statement is below.

“I want to acknowledge the concerns expressed by Louise Nicholas and others around my comments from 2004 regarding Operation Austin.

“It is important to say outright that I take responsibility for those comments, I deeply regret them, and I unreservedly apologise for the hurt and concern they have caused.

“That does not reflect my view or the values I bring to the job every day.

“In the 14 years since those comments, and particularly through the changes following the 2007 Commission of Inquiry, I have reflected deeply and often on what it means to live the values that New Zealanders rightly expect from their police.

“I recently met with Louise to assure her of my commitment to the work the organisation has done as a result of the Commission of Inquiry to improve our culture, and our service to victims of sexual assault.

“My previous association with those individuals does not reflect who I am now nor what the NZ Police stands for today.

“The culture of NZ Police has changed for the better in recent years as a result of the Inquiry and an ongoing commitment to our values, but there is still more work to do.

“My focus is on working tirelessly in NZ Police to build the trust and confidence of our communities.”

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters followed up: Government to hold inquiry into appointment process of Deputy Commissioner of Police

“Cabinet will consider the matter on Monday to determine the specific details of the inquiry and its terms of reference,” Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said today.

But this has created further controversy. RNZ: National Party’s outcry over appointment of NZ First MP to inquiry role

National is crying foul after the Internal Affairs Minister and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin was picked to oversee an inquiry into the appointment of the deputy police commissioner.

The party alleges it is a conflict of interest, given Deputy Commissioner of Police Wally Haumaha himself put his hand up as a New Zealand First candidate in 2005.

His appointment to the senior police job is being scrutinised following revelations he stood up for three of his colleagues accused of rape in 1993.

The inquiry:

“Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin will initiate a government inquiry into the process. The terms of reference will focus on the State Services Commission’s appointment process,” Mr Peters said.

The inquiry will investigate whether all the appropriate information was gathered by the State Services Commission during the appointment process and if not, why not.

It will also look into whether that information was provided to ministers – specifically the police minister – who officiated the appointment.

The criticism:

National’s police spokesperson Chris Bishop questioned Tracey Martin’s appointment to the inquiry role.

“Well hang on a minute, how can we have a New Zealand First minister overseeing a process that is looking into potential conflicts of interest around a possible New Zealand First candidate? I really don’t think that passes the sniff test.”

The New Zealand Herald has newspaper clippings from August 2005 that show Mr Haumaha was announced as the party’s candidate for Rotorua at a local event.

Just four days later the same paper reported the now-deputy leader of New Zealand First Fletcher Tabuteau would instead be running that year.

Peters has just been interviewed on RNZ about this and is in his usual combative attacking/defensive mode.

It would be better if NZ First were not involved in the inquiry, but Peters looks determined to do it his way.

 

Police “not tolerating bad behaviour any more” (sexual assaults)

RNZ reports in ‘They’re not tolerating bad behaviour any more’:

A decade of independent scrutiny of how police treat sexual assault victims and how they investigate their own officers is about to end.

Ten years ago today a Commission of Inquiry led by Dame Margaret Bazley released a scathing report describing disgraceful conduct by officers over 25 years and a wall of silence protecting the men that women complained about.

The inquiry investigated historic sexual assault claims and misconduct from 1979 to 2004.

In 2007, Dame Margaret released her findings which pointed to systemic issues, evidence of disgraceful misconduct and a culture of scepticism around reported sexual assaults.

The case of Louise Nicholas prompted the Commission of Inquiry to be established in 2004.

Louise Nicholas vividly remembers how fearful she was, the day her story was made public on 1 January 2004.

“In talking with [journalist] Phil Kitchin, in putting the story out there publicly, ‘what am I going to get out of it?’

“And he said, ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘I need for the police to acknowledge, to stand up and say, ‘yeah, we’ve got a really, really bad culture and we need to do something about this.’ And Phil said, ‘Well, let’s call for a Commission of Inquiry’ … and that’s how it all got started.

“And then, as fate has it, police decided to investigate my allegations that came through the media.”

She said the investigation was important in enabling victims to come forward.

“The results were of course, acquittals. But, did I get my justice? As I sit here today, abso-bloody-lutely I did.

Mrs Nicholas said how police dealt with sexual assault survivors was the biggest change she wanted to see happen.

She said if her case had happened today, it would have been handled so much better by police.

“I’ve actually seen the change in how police are investigating their own. They’re not tolerating bad behaviour any more. We’ve got coppers out there on the front line actually stepping up and saying, ‘I’m not going to tolerate your behaviour’, and actually are speaking out. That’s huge.”

She said in recent years, she had dealt with a number of women who had been alleged victims of rape by police staff.

Many of those women got the justice they wanted, with their offenders being convicted and jailed, Mrs Nicholas said.

The inquiry investigated quite a few allegations.

The inquiry reviewed 313 complaints of sexual assaults against 222 police officers between 1979 and 2005.

Charges were laid in relation to 141 of those complaints.

As a result, 10 police officers or former officers were convicted of sexual assault, 20 accused were cleared and two officers took their own lives before their cases could be heard.

This shook things up in the Police force, as it should have.

Mike Bush, the third Police Commissioner since 2007, said the inquiry acted as a catalyst for reform.

“We’re now a very, very victim-focused organisation. We’re focused on being very high performing and we have excellent values that sit as the foundation of the New Zealand Police.”

He said the public could have confidence that complaints would be dealt with appropriately.

“If there are any complaints made, in regards to sexual complaints, whether it’s involving our staff or others, we act with absolute urgency, absolute transparency and absolute professionalism with the victim at the heart of everything we do.”

Making complaints of sexual assault is still not easy, but at least now the Police will take them seriously and deal with them much more appropriately.

Independent Police Conduct Authority chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said in a statement that it appeared the police had taken the recommendations very seriously.

“There is no doubt the genuine efforts that have been made to achieve the progress which has been reported.”

Dame Margaret says that since here inquiry there has been a huge cultural change in the Police Force.

“The Commissioner wasn’t always aware of what was happening out in the regions and there had been a culture of tending not to deal with things. But that has all changed.”

“There’s the observing public that take note of this.. and if they were aware of this sort of thing now.. they would be blowing the whistle very smartly I believe.

“I don’t think communities would tolerate that sort of behaviour today.”

There is much less open community tolerance of sexual crime now, and there needs to be zero tolerance of sexual offending by police officers, and zero tolerance of inappropriate handling of sexual assault complaints.

New Zealander of the year

I have mixed feelings about singling out one person from a diverse bunch of people but some make a big deal out of awards.

Richie McCaw has just been named New Zealander of the Year – I presume it relates to last year, I don’t think he’s done much of note this year.

The three finalists described in the Herald’s Richie McCaw named New Zealander of the year:

Presenting the award, Prime Minister John Key said: “One end of the country to the other we’re jam-packed with people who do incredible things.

“Richie McCaw, who is the greatest All Black New Zealand has ever produced – an amazing New Zealander.

“Louise Nicholas who has done more for sexual violence and sexual abuse than any other New Zealander.

“Rob Fenwick who has a real passion… For the environment that we as New Zealanders treasure and enjoy so much.”

I guess this was the last chance for McCaw had of getting this award, for playing rugby anyway.  He may be up for an award for humbleness in the face of an accolade onslaught in the future.

Nicholas and Fenwick will presumably keep doing what they’ve been doing and may be considered again in the future due to accumulating merit.

There’s a lot of other people who do a lot of good for New Zealand.

People towards the other end of the scale will probably complain about the Prime Minister being involved in handing out the award.

There were more awards:

  • Richie McCaw – New Zealander of the Year
  • Lydia Ko -Young New Zealander of the Year
  • John Russell – Senior New Zealander of the Year
  • Selwyn Cook – New Zealand Local Hero
  • Community Fruit Harvesting – New Zealand Community of the Year

Website: New Zealander of the Year Awards

The New Zealander of the Year Awards celebrate those people who use their passion for New Zealand to make our country a better place. These awards are your opportunity to honour extraordinary Kiwis whose selflessness, creativity, and vision make us proud to call New Zealand home.