Ex-MP Darleen Tana claims report into migrant exploitation leaked to ‘pressure’ her

Ex-MP Darleen Tana claims report into migrant exploitation leaked to ‘pressure’ her

Leaked sections of investigator Rachel Burt’s report into the matter, launched by the Green Party in March, revealed Burt deemed it “more likely than not” Tana was aware of complaints against her husband’s business, according to RNZ.

It also revealed Burt considered Tana’s credibility was “significantly compromised” based on the information she provided during the investigation.

Burt determined Hoff-Nielsen’s evidence “tended to obfuscate rather than elucidate” and didn’t provide a “coherent or consistent verbal account” – two of the several difficulties Burt said she encountered through the 114 days of the investigation.

On Monday, Swarbrick urged Tana to resign from Parliament altogether, arguing her presence would distract from the party’s objectives. Swarbrick had remained vague on whether the party would utilise the so-called waka jumping legislation to force her out of Parliament, something the Greens had historically opposed.

In response to questions from the Herald, Tana claimed the leaks were intended to pressure her but she didn’t speculate on who was behind them.

“The leak of the investigation report or part of it appears to be another attempt to pressure me,” she said.

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick, with colleagues Teanau Tuiono and Ricardo Menendez March, announcing the party has asked MP Darleen Tana to resign. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick, with colleagues Teanau Tuiono and Ricardo Menendez March, announcing the party has asked MP Darleen Tana to resign. Photo / Mark Mitchell

She reiterated her previous comments that the report didn’t determine whether migrant worker exploitation had occurred and “statements made by the party to this effect have no foundation”.

The party hadn’t publicly alleged Tana had played a role in exploitation. Swarbrick had said Tana’s actions had fallen short of expectations set for Green MPs.

Tana wouldn’t offer a view on Burt’s findings about her husband.

“…they are her insights, not mine. Nor can I speak for my husband – he is his own person and how he engaged in the process was entirely up to him.

“This speaks to the heart of this investigation: he makes his own decisions, about his business. He doesn’t have any obligation to disclose that information to me.”

In her report, Burt identified key difficulties in the investigation process, including two complainants not wanting to meet her “at the outset” and only providing certain documents, and people she deemed relevant not wanting to be interviewed.

Tana believed those difficulties “without a doubt influenced the reliability of the findings”.

“What I can say is that I engaged in this process openly, sincerely, and in a manner that reflects my values as wahine Māori and what I understand to be the values of the Green Party.”

Christian Hoff-Nielsen, husband of Darleen Tana, arrives at his e-bike shop in Newmarket, Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Christian Hoff-Nielsen, husband of Darleen Tana, arrives at his e-bike shop in Newmarket, Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Asked if she would launch her own inquiry into the investigation, Tana said she didn’t think it was worth it.

“Enough of taxpayers’ hard-earned money has been wasted on an investigation that has ultimately determined it is “more likely than not” that my husband told me something.

“I have no intention on calling an investigation into an investigation, however flawed it might be. We need to draw a line underneath it and move on.”

It was previously reported more than $43,000 of taxpayers’ money had been spent, but the total figure hadn’t been released by the Green Party.

She didn’t elaborate on whether she would remain in Parliament as an independent MP, saying she was taking time to consider the report.

“I gave the Green Party my utmost patience throughout the investigative process. I am disappointed they are not extending the same patience with me.”

Green Party whip Ricardo Menéndez March said he could “categorically rule out” it was the party that leaked the report.

“We take privacy obligations very seriously and have been in touch with the Privacy Commissioner in regards to the leak of the Executive Summary while consultation with named parties was ongoing. We have subsequently informed all implicated parties,” Menéndez March said.

In response to Tana’s criticism of the party’s actions after receiving the report, Menéndez March argued the party had a “duty to act”.

“Following Darleen’s decision to resign from the party, we had an obligation to inform the public of the change to our caucus,” he said.

“The report’s findings were also such that [the] caucus lost confidence in Darleen as a Green Party MP. This is why [the] caucus was in unanimous agreement that we request Darleen’s resignation from Parliament.

“She has had a number of months to reflect on her actions since allegations first surfaced. The public deserves a decision from her and it is high time she showed some accountability.”

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.