8 Nov 2018

Police Commissioner dodges questions on Haumaha inquiry

3:33 pm on 8 November 2018

The Commissioner of Police remains confident in Wally Haumaha, who he says has been conducting his duties as Deputy Police Commissioner from home while an investigation into his appointment was underway.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush, with assistant commissioner Sandra Venables and chief financial officer and deputy chief executive John Bole at the Justice Select Committee.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush (centre) says he has not yet seen the findings of the review into Wally Haumaha's appointment. Photo: RNZ / Gia Garrick

That's despite the looming release of Mary Scholten QC's report into that process which as of last Friday is back before the government.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this morning that it would be released in a few days' time.

Commissioner Mike Bush would not answer questions about the inquiry when he appeared before a parliamentary committee for the police annual review today, because he said he had not seen the report.

But he told reporters Mr Haumaha had his complete confidence, and continued to fulfil his role.

"The work continues. He has a very good group working with him and they are very focused on continuing that good work," Mr Bush said.

Mr Haumaha runs the Māori-Pacific ethnic services for New Zealand Police.

"The New Zealand Police really focus to ensure that our partnership with Māori and other ethnicities stays and remains very strong. Wally's at the front of that work and he continues to be so," Mr Bush said.

"That's his responsibility and that's what he's continued to do remotely."

Mr Bush's refusal to answer questions sparked a fiery exchange led by National MPs Chris Bishop and Nick Smith, with the Labour MPs on the committee and Mr Bush himself, including accusations against Mr Bush that he's being deliberately coy.

But when asked if he'd come back before the Justice Committee once the government releases that report, Mr Bush said it would be "my pleasure."

Police Minister Stuart Nash said it was unfortunate timing that the police annual review came up before the report was made public.

"We're going through a process. It wasn't held back for any reason, no-one was being disingenuous," he said.

"This is a process we have to go through around natural justice, and my understanding is those who have been affected in the report have to have the ability to look at that and determine if things get redacted or not."

But National's police spokesperson Chris Bishop said this was the government being disingenuous.

"The government knew that we had the commissioner up for a 90-minute select committee hearing this morning, they knew that, and they've cynically delayed the release of the report until after the committee's finished its hearing this morning and going into a two-week recess when Parliament doesn't sit," he said. "It's a disgrace."

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