8 Jul 2019

Police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha accused by Stuff over media approach

5:57 pm on 8 July 2019

The media company Stuff has accused police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha of trying to coax a reporter into writing a sympathetic story about him.

Wally Haumaha

Police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha Photo: SUPPLIED

Mr Haumaha strongly disputes the interpretation from Stuff that he was trying to coax the reporter, and says the context does not support that conclusion.

Mr Haumaha made an unsuccessful complaint to the Media Council about a Dominion Post article following bullying accusations. He claimed the story was not accurate, and involved subterfuge. Neither complaint was upheld by the Media Council.

The article was headlined "Haumaha refuses to issue apology", in relation to the two women who accused him of bullying. The allegations prompted an IPCA investigation and a report by the State Services Commission into the appointment of the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Mr Haumaha remains in his job.

As part of its response to the complaint, Stuff said Mr Haumaha had acted inappropriately during an interview by allegedly saying to the reporter, who is Māori, "I would expect the support of some of our Māori journalists".

"Stuff said this was a failed and regrettable attempt at coaxing a senior reporter into writing a sympathetic story. It is Stuff's view that the subsequent complaint reflects the complainant's ongoing anger at the publication of a story that was not to his liking," the Media Council decision said.

Through the police, Deputy Commissioner Haumaha did not wish to comment.

However his personal lawyer, Gerard Dewar, did on his behalf.

"We don't agree with the interpretation that [Mr Haumaha] was trying to coax the reporter to write a favourable story on this topic," Mr Dewar said.

"He had made it clear that he would not speak on the topic [of the bullying allegations] at all before the interview, and before that passage of the transcript that has been quoted.

"When the interview is heard, it is clear that the context of those comments do not support the submission that he was trying to coax or in any way coerce this reporter."

"He had agreed to be interviewed, understanding that it was confined to his role in the aftermath of the Christchurch tragedies."

Read the full Media Council decision here.