Haumaha to keep his job, but police accept IPCA report

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Thursday, 20 December 2018, 5:30p.m.
Wally Haumaha will face an internal employment probe after the latest report into his actions. (Photo / File)

LISTEN TO JARED SAVAGE AND MIKE BUSH TALK WITH LARRY WILLIAMS ABOVE

Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha will now face an internal employment probe after an independent investigation found his workplace behaviour towards three women was unprofessional and inappropriate.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took urgent legal advice from the Solicitor-General Una Jagose yesterday after reading the 39-page report released by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The PM was "very disappointed" in the findings but said the "clearly inappropriate behaviour" did not meet the threshold for Haumaha to be dismissed.

She stressed the constitutional independence of the police and her decision had to be seen to not be politically motivated.

While the threshold to remove Haumaha was not met - largely on the grounds Haumaha's behaviour did not meet the workplace definition of bullying - the PM said Police Commissioner Mike Bush had been told of her "very clear expectations".

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

"There is a clear expectation on police that they act professionally. I have relayed my views to the Minister of Police and ask that he pass on to the [Police] Commissioner my expectation that he deal with those matters as employment matters."

In a statement, Bush said the IPCA concluded Haumaha's behaviour did not constitute bullying - in terms of the legal definition - but the report raised issues he is taking seriously.

"These are matters that I will deal with as Commissioner of Police. I expect high standards from all my staff, but especially members of my Executive."

Bush told Larry Williams he'll keep his job

"I have confidence in Wally in terms of the duties he will be carrying out. The public can have confidence."

The Maori Focus Forum - a body of senior Maori elders including Sir Toby Curtis, Dame Naida Glavish and Sir Mark Solomon - issued a press release which entirely rejected the critical IPCA report.

"The Forum members sought to speak to the [IPCA] but were denied the opportunity to present evidence.

"From this they conclude the Authority determined not to receive relevant evidence from people with first-hand knowledge of DC Haumaha's work practices and, even worse, refused to receive the cultural perspective the Forum wished to offer."

The PM refused to express confidence in Haumaha, whom she appointed to the statutory role in May on the recommendation of Police Minister Stuart Nash.

A Government Inquiry - launched after the Herald reported concerns raised by Louise Nicholas - cleared the process which led to his appointment.

Mary Scholtens, QC, found there was no formal complaint of bullying for Bush to consider as part of the State Services Commission panel which recommended Haumaha as one of two candidates for the job.

Even if there had been a formal complaint, Scholtens found the likely consequence would be any concerns would have formed part of Bush's assessment of Haumaha's leadership style.

And Bush already knew Haumaha could "forceful" and "demanding", said Scholtens, because of a blunt appraisal of his strengths and weaknesses for a previous promotion.

Although Scholtens was not tasked with considering the merits of the complaints, she characterised the allegations as Haumaha's adoption of a "direct, police style-approach" to a multi-agency project "where a more orthodox public sector approach may have been appropriate".

Her findings are completely at odds with the IPCA report by Judge Colin Doherty.

He found Haumaha's behaviour towards the three women was at times unprofessional and inappropriate for a senior executive.

Three women - two senior policy analysts from Justice and one from Corrections - were working on a joint project with police.

But the trio walked out of Police National Headquarters in June 2016 and refused to return because of Haumaha's behaviour.

Two of the women laid formal complaints with the police this year after the Herald broke the story in August.

The IPCA, for the most part, upheld their complaints and described some of the incidents as bullying, as the word is commonly understood.

However, his behaviour did not meet the WorkSafe definition of bullying which requires "persistence".

The police oversight body also investigated complaints Haumaha contacted police staff seeking their support when he learned the Herald was asking questions about the allegations.

Despite the fact Haumaha was acting on legal advice, the IPCA said this was "improper" and staff felt like they could not refuse without fear of repercussions for their career.

Haumaha also acted improperly by divulging private and confidential information about one of the complainants - sent to him by her former manager at Corrections - in an attempt to discredit her, the IPCA found.

The two women told the Herald the IPCA findings were concerning.

"The report describes Deputy Commissioner Haumaha's behaviour at work towards us and our colleagues as humiliating, intimidating, inappropriate, aggressive, unprofessional and belittling.

"None of these are words that should apply to anyone's experiences working in the public service, and it is even more concerning when these describe the behaviour of the second highest ranked police officer in the country."

The women were particularly upset about Haumaha receiving private and confidential employee information from Corrections, then sent the email to others.

The IPCA found Haumaha's intention was to discredit the complainant.

"We find this nothing short of 'dirty politics' and expected more integrity from our country's top police officers," the women said.

The complainants pointed out the IPCA made no recommendations and they now want to know what the police intend to do, given the criticisms of the police oversight body.

"We know these matters are bigger than us and we want this opportunity to support other women and men to be safe at work."

A separate review by the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, also released yesterday, found Justice and Corrections did not have robust processes - and poor communication - when concerns were first raised by the women in June 2016.

Both government agencies failed to meet current public service standards, which came into effect a year later.

"But for us the most concerning issue is that, despite what was said at the meeting, no one in the senior leadership within Police (beyond Deputy Commissioner Haumaha) was told about the women's allegation until early August 2016," Hughes wrote.

Police were not told by anyone at Justice or Corrections.

Instead, it was Louise Nicholas - a friend of one of the women - who raised it directly with Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement without revealing names.

The SSC view of the decision by Justice managers to not directly raise concerns with police leadership differs from the findings of the Government Inquiry.

"On my understanding of the facts of the various allegations, I consider their approach was reasonable," wrote Mary Scholtens.

Four investigations in the Wally Haumaha saga

Government Inquiry:

Completely cleared the process which led the Haumaha's appointment as Deputy Commissioner.

Independent Police Conduct Authority: Upheld complaints by two women about Haumaha's behaviour which was described as unprofessional and inappropriate at times.

State Services Commission: Found Justice and Corrections did not meet current public service standards when the women raised concerns about Haumaha in 2016.

Police: Commissioner Mike Bush will now look into issues raised by the IPCA as an employment matter.

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