And so the messy two year saga that has been the appointment of Wally Haumaha to the #2 cop job in the country slithered back into the headlines one more time.
This time the Independent Police Conduct Authority has upheld complaints from people under his command that he used bullying behaviour in the workplace. This sparked another round of people demanding he stand down from his job as Deputy Commissior, most vocally from Chris Bishop and the National Party.
After consideration by the Government’s legal beagles Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decided to take no action but expressed her disappointment in Wally’s behaviour. It was an understandable decision as the Commissioners behaviour was on a threshold and any attempt to remove him would have become an employment matter, which would have resulted in the loss of many taxpayer’s dollars into lawyer’s pockets, and you have to wonder the worth of that.
I’ve always been torn about Wally Haumaha. He is one of the last remaining echoes from the days when men were men, cops were cops, and crims were crims, and the lines between them were blurred. When there was only a sliver of moral difference between the good guys and the bad guys.
I remember talking to a gang member in the 80s in the Fosters Tavern by the Whanganui River and the guy telling me the gangs thought the cops were just another gang running their own rackets.
The cops are our last defence line for civil order and in such a cauldron the men and women involved used whatever means necessary to uphold that order, and sometimes they got it wrong. And while this moral and physical battle raged the general law abiding population had no idea.
During the Louise Nicholas saga most didn’t know that police involved were turning up to court from a jail cell. That case unveiled the culture of the police that seemed to come straight out of a gritty Chicago crime movie.
From the latest allegations, you can almost visualise the scene where Wally bellowed at people while thumping his foot up on a chair being enacted by Robert De Niro highlighting that this was a tough man not to be trifled with.
Since yesterday, I have had a steady stream of correspondence from people disappointed that Wally still has the job. They include all sorts of allegations about him, his wife and his involvement in politics.
Here’s the thing. Wally was forged in tough times. He has worked his way up from the street beat to the back offices and now the top floor. He is now in charge of a highly complex multi-million dollar business under intense scrutiny. He’s done will. He’s worked hard and he’s been determined. So now it’s time to leave the street behind and win the battles not with your body but with your mind.
It’s a tough transition but it has to happen. But yesterday Wally’s lawyer was asked if Haumaha was apologetic for the bullying described in the report. He said: "I am able to say he's been bewildered by the events as they have unfolded."
Well, it’s time to de-bewilder yourself, Commissioner. You’re in the big leagues now and there will be no second chances.