20 Dec 2018

PM says Wally Haumaha's job is safe - but he's on notice

3:19 pm on 20 December 2018

Deputy Commissioner of Police Wally Haumaha's job is safe, despite findings he acted innapropriately towards two women he was in charge of during a joint project two years ago.

Wally Haumaha

Despite and Independent Police Conduct Authority report find Mr Haumaha acted improperly during a project in 2016, his job is safe Photo: SUPPLIED

An Independent Police Conduct Authority report, released on its website today, found that Mr Haumaha at times acted improperly during a high-pressure government project in 2016.

Despite that behaviour not meeting the threshold for the prime minister to fire Mr Haumaha, he's on notice, she says.

The report clears Mr Haumaha, who was promoted to deputy commissioner in May, of several complaints about his behaviour but goes on to find he acted poorly on at least two occasions.

In one incident, it concludes he acted inappropriately and unprofessionally for a senior executive and his behaviour was belittling and humiliating.

The report looks at several incidents in which Mr Haumaha and staff members were working on a project. It finds in two incidents that his behaviour was justified or was not unreasonable.

The report says that it finds some of Mr Haumaha's behaviour was "inappropriate and unprofessional" in two complaints but was not clearly workplace bullying.

A third complaint focused on whether he acted improperly in approaching staff to support him to refute allegations about his conduct. In this case, the report concludes that he did.

"By making such requests, he was implicitly asking staff to support him, and he failed to consider the impact of his requests on the staff concerned.

"Staff were made uncomfortable by DC Haumaha's requests and did not feel that they could safely refuse without being seen by him or by (another employee) as disloyal, with consequent repercussions for career progression.

"DC Haumaha acted improperly by asking two staff members to solicit support on his behalf."

Jacinda Ardern at post-cabinet meeting on 17.12.2018.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Mr Haumaha is on notice. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this had not met the threshold for her to fire him - but he was on notice.

"It needs to meet a proper test and threshold. The legal advice is that it has not been met in this case," she said.

"So that leaves it then as an employment matter for the Commissioner of Police to work on those issues that have been raised in the IPCA report."

Ms Ardern said the Solicitor-General's legal advice she sought on the IPCA report was very clear, as was her position.

"I am very disappointed at the findings of the IPCA report, which shows Mr Haumaha has in some cases acted inappropriately and unprofessionally."

She expected the Minister of Police to follow up with the Police Commissioner, who she has told must deal with these matters.

"We do need to make sure we uphold the highest level of professionalism within the police. There are examples here of that not happening. It has not met though the test for Mr Haumaha's removal."

National has called on the Prime Minister to ignore the legal advice from the Soliciter-General and sack Mr Haumaha.

Police spokesperson Chris Bishop said the report showed Mr Haumaha's behaviour was totally innapropriate for a member of the police and he should not be allowed to remain in his role.

"The Prime Minister appointed Wally Haumaha, and the Prime Minister can sack Wally Haumaha. We believe in the National Party that she should do that and that the threshold has been reached for her to sack him."

He said the report noted his behaviour met the colloquial definition of bullying.

"It found that he was belittling, it found that he was humiliating, it found that he was intimidating and it found that he acted innapropriately and unprofessionally.

"It's just not tenable that the second-top police person in the country can exhibit that sort of behaviour and stay in the job."

He said the National Party had been contacted in the time since the report came out by serving police officers who Mr Bishop said were horrified at what had gone on and who did not believe he should stay in the job.

Minister of Police Stuart Nash has written to Police Commissioner Mike Bush, asking him to advise him of how he intends to respond to the findings of the IPCA report.

"The report did not make any recommendations but it is clear that a finding of improper and unprofessional behaviour requires follow up action," he said.

"The behaviour identified in the IPCA report does not meet the high standards I expect. It is not in line with police values, which require professionalism and for officers to treat colleagues and the public with respect."

Mr Nash said it was important the police learned from this.

"The IPCA has identified behaviours that need more work, and I want the Commissioner to advise me how he will take oversight of this."

Opposition leader Simon Bridges said: "It was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who appointed Wally Haumaha. She now has to take responsibility and dismiss the man that she appointed to one of the most senior and powerful roles in the country."

Mr Haumaha was appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendations of both the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Police Minister Stuart Nash.

His rise to the top ranks has been under a cloud ever since survivors' advocate Louise Nicholas went public with her reservations about Mr Haumaha's appointment given comments he had made defending police officers accused of rape in 2004.

Last month, a government inquiry into Mr Haumaha's appointment to deputy police commissioner concluded the process was 'adequate and fit for purpose'.

The Police Commissioner said he accepts the findings of an independent report into Haumaha.

In a statement the Commissioner Mike Bush said the report had raised issues he was taking seriously, and ones he would now deal with.

"I expect high standards from all my staff, but especially members of my Executive.

"It is good to now have both the IPCA report and Inquiry completed."

The independent examination of all matters raised has been an important process, said Mr Bush.