New top cop apologises for comments about Louise Nicholas

Sexual assault survivor advocate Louise Nicholas.
Sexual assault survivor advocate Louise Nicholas. Photo credit: File

New deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha has issued an apology for comments he made about Louise Nicholas.

During the 2004 Operation Austin investigation, Mr Haumaha described Ms Nicholas' allegation of gang rape as "nonsense" and said "nothing really happened and we have to stick together".

Mr Haumata says the comments do not reflect the views and values he brings to work each day.

"It is important to say outright that I take responsibility for those comments, I deeply regret them, and I unreservedly apologise for the hurt and concern they have caused," Mr Haumata said in a statement.

"In the 14 years since those comments, and particularly through the changes following the 2007 Commission of Inquiry, I have reflected deeply and often on what it means to live the values that New Zealanders rightly expect from their police."

In 2004, Ms Nicholas publicly alleged police officers Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum raped her as a teenager in the 1980s.

The officers were found not guilty in 2006. The jury had not been told Shipton and Schollum were already imprisoned on other rape charges.

When Ms Nicholas found out about Mr Haumaha's appointment, she set up a meeting with him and Commissioner Mike Bush.

"I didn't hold back. I said, 'I've read your statement, Wally, and I know what you said. You put it out there about how wonderful these men were,'" Ms Nicholas told NZME.

Mr Nash says he had not been made aware of the comments but said he had been told Mr Huamaha worked in Rotorua and had been interviewed for the investigation.

"The comments are deeply disappointing and are unacceptable," Mr Nash said in a statement.

"I give a commitment to Louise Nicholas that police will not 'take the foot off the accelerator' in regards to ongoing efforts to improve their response to victims of offending."