13 Nov 2018

Louise Nicholas stands by criticism after report clears Wally Haumaha

10:37 am on 13 November 2018

Victims' advocate Louise Nicholas says the police should not have assumed she was okay with Wally Haumaha being promoted a second time.

police logo, Louise Nicholas

Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Mary Scholtens QC released her report into the appointment of Mr Haumaha to deputy commissioner yesterday, which found the process was sound and made properly, on the information available.

Ms Nicholas said she only found out about his appointment through the media and immediately raised concerns as she had when he was considered for an assistant commissioner role in 2015.

That included comments he made in 2004, in defence of three men she accused of raping her.

The Scholtens report includes accounts from Police Commissioner Mike Bush and deputy Mike Clement about why they did not raise Ms Nicholas' concerns with the State Services Commission during this latest process.

"The commissioner understood those concerns had been resolved," the report reads. "He did not consider it a matter that was relevant to the appointment process; indeed, given he believed it was resolved, it did not occur to him as an issue."

That reasoning included an instance in 2016 where Mr Bush said he saw Ms Nicholas and Mr Haumaha "talking amicably and positively on at least one occasion at a Police College graduation."

The report said he recalled they were talking one on one and it left him with the impression "that everything was okay - there were no issues."

Ms Nicholas said she was surprised to read that in the report.

"Yeah, cause sometimes you have to get in a situation you're not comfortable with. The commissioner saw that as 'oh this is okay, they're talking, that's a good thing' but nobody actually came to me and said 'are you okay? Was that okay for you?'

"At that point no it wasn't, but I did what I needed to do because of the event."

Ms Nicholas said it's clear these policemen had made assumptions that her 2015 concerns no longer existed.

"They didn't believe that my concerns were such that they had to re-look at it. I wish they had've, but they didn't," Ms Nicholas said.

"Why didn't they come back, and say 'look he's been put forward. Do you still have reservations?'"

Following Mr Haumaha's appointment and her comments in the media, Ms Nicholas said she was invited to meet with Mr Haumaha, as well as Mr Bush and Mr Clement.

She then sent a follow-up email to Mr Bush on 1 June, a copy of which was included in Ms Scholten's report. In it she said it was her intention to "move forward and be open to developing a working relationship" with Mr Haumaha.

It said the "conversation was never about having any expectations of NZ Police to end the appointment, but it is about putting the NZ Police on notice to say I am concerned, I have doubts and I wish this not to be hidden from people who have the power to intervene or protect the most vulnerable''.

Ms Nicholas told RNZ that she believed that "a lot of what I said was taken out of context" at that meeting.

"If I have to work alongside Wally Haumaha because he's got this position and nothing can be changed, then I have to work alongside him," Ms Nicholas said.

"It's for our survivors, it's for our victims of crime. It doesn't matter who I'm working alongside, we do it for the reasons why we do this work."

Ms Nicholas told Morning Report police attitudes have changed for the better over the last 10 years but she believes the organisation shouldn't have promoted Mr Haumaha.

"This appointment shows that in that powerful position you really have to make sure you've got the right person with the right integrity sitting there.

"I don't believe that Mr Haumaha has that and his past comments, and what he has done with women in the Ministry of Justice and Corrections, showed that," she said.

Ms Nicholas said she believes the process to appoint Mr Haumaha could have been better.

"I wasn't looking at Mr Haumaha not getting the appointment, it was about they (the police) have to look at skeletons in closets and they didn't go deep enough I don't think.

"Would it have derailed his promotion? Probably not but it would have given them an insight into his behaviour over the past years," she said.

Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis wouldn't tell Morning Report whether he believed Mr Haumaha should continue in his role but said the inquiry into his appointment confirmed the process was adequate.

"We established an inquiry to make sure the people making the decision had all the information that they should have in order to make that decision and Mary Scholtens QC did say that the process was robust," he said.

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