20 Dec 2018

Police Commissioner retains 'absolute confidence' in Wally Haumaha

From Checkpoint, 5:12 pm on 20 December 2018

The country's top police officer says he retains "absolute confidence" in his second-in-command Wally Haumaha.

Mike Bush, Police Commissioner. 2 February 2017.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority found Mr Haumaha - the deputy commissioner - belittled and humiliated two female staff during a project he led with the Ministries of Justice and Corrections in 2016.

The report clears Mr Haumaha, who was promoted to deputy commissioner in May, of several complaints about his behaviour but goes on to find he acted poorly on at least two occasions.

It said his behaviour doesn't constitute bullying and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she is leaving it up to police and its employment procedures.

In one incident, it concludes he acted inappropriately and unprofessionally for a senior executive and his behaviour was belittling and humiliating. 

The report looks at several incidents in which Mr Haumaha and staff members were working on a project. It finds in two incidents that his behaviour was justified or was not unreasonable.

The report says that it finds some of Mr Haumaha's behaviour was "inappropriate and unprofessional" in two complaints but was not clearly workplace bullying.

A third complaint focused on whether he acted improperly in approaching staff to support him to refute allegations about his conduct. In this case, the report concludes that he did.

Commissioner Mike Bush told Checkpoint he spoke to Mr Haumaha today and outlined his expectations for officers to uphold police values.

"I said at select committee I did, and I confirm that today. I have absolute confidence. 

"He's been leading a team that have been doing excellent work in terms of ensuring that we have better outcomes for Maori inside the justice system."

He said the case raised issues and police needed to ensure that "like all members of my executive we absolutely live the values of the organisation, which the public should absolutely expect from us".

"My expectations ... have been made clear again today and I'll be ensuring they are adhered to.

"I want to ensure that no-one ever feels the need to make those sorts of suggestions or complaints again, that we act with absolute professionalism, that we act with absolute respect, that we have absolute empathy.

"They are the expectations I have of everyone, but especially the senior leadership.

Watch Lisa Owen's full interview with Mike Bush: