Minister reveals details of CAA bullying review

Details of the Government's independent review into bullying, sexual harassment and alleged cover-ups at the Civil Aviation Authority have been released by the Transport Minister. 

The review was prompted by a Newshub investigation, which revealed concerns from multiple current and former staff of a toxic work environment and complaints being covered up by management.

Wellington barrister Rachael Schmidt-McCleave and consultancy RDC, which is headed by former Deputy State Services Commissioner, Doug Craig, are the external, independent experts that will work on the investigation. 

They will assess complaints or concerns about bullying and harassment, investigate how they were dealt with, and come up with a list of findings and recommendations. 

  • The review will involve confidential interviews. 
  • Current staff, former staff and those in the wider aviation industry are being asked to participate.
  •  Non-Disclosure Agreements will be waived.  

A spokesperson for the Transport Minister told Newshub, "all interviews will be conducted by the external specialists and Ministry staff will not be present during interviews".

The relevant time period for the review is from 1 January 2015 onwards. 

Those wishing to share information about bullying and harassment at CAA, and or to arrange interviews, are invited to contact the Ministry by emailing 

"The review will include confidential interviews with past and present staff members, managers, Board members and stakeholders, together with an assessment of organisational culture," Transport Minister Phil Twyford said in a statement. 

The Public Service Association says its members are ready to engage with investigators. 

"It's deeply unfortunate this review became necessary in the first place, but we are pleased to see the agency and the Ministry of Transport show leadership in tackling these problems", said PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay. 

"Integrity and honesty are integral to public service, and we want New Zealand workers to feel confident they can live up to these values without repercussion," said Mr Barclay.

Aviation Commentator, Irene King, told Newshub CAA staff are "absolutely entitled to a safe work environment" and that's fundamental to ensuring they deliver high-quality regulatory performance. 

She encouraged anyone with information to come forward. 

"If industry has clear and irrefutable evidence of bullying internally at CAA, then they must step forward because this is their opportunity," said Mrs King.   

New Zealand Airline Pilots Association President Captain Andrew Ridling told Newshub he welcomed the review. 

The CEO of Aviation NZ, John Nicholson, said he's pleased independent experts were being engaged as the integrity of the review depended on it. 

He hoped this would encourage people to have confidence in the review and speak out. 

"We hope that many will come forward and contribute. A good culture attracts good people who willingly contribute to organisational success." 

The final report into culture at CAA is expected to be returned to the Minister on December 13. 

Current and former CAA staff who spoke to Newshub as part of the network's original investigation, said news of the review, and its use of external experts is encouraging and they will be speaking to investigators.  

"We encourage anyone else who has ever had an issue with the culture or how they've been treated at the CAA - past or present - to do the same. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to create some positive change in the organisation where it is so desperately needed," a source told Newshub. 

The investigation into culture at CAA aside, the CAA itself has commissioned a separate investigation into inappropriate behaviour and conduct at the Aviation Security Service. This investigation is being headed by David Laurenson QC. 

Avsec staff with specific concerns are encouraged to contact Nick McGirr, Acting General Manager Organisational Development at

The Transport Ministry is also undertaking an assessment of the regulatory systems governing helicopters and small craft. 


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