Haumaha inquiry: Government appoints new chair for Wally Haumaha inquiry

Haumaha inquiry: Government appoints new chair for Wally Haumaha inquiry
Photo credit: LinkedIn

The Government has chosen a new chair for the inquiry into the appointment of Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha.

Mary Scholtens QC will now need the inquiry into the appointment process, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced on Friday evening.

It comes after Dr Pauline Kingi, who was initially chosen to lead the inquiry, stepped down from the role after her links to Dr Haumaha were questioned.

Ms Martin called the scrutiny "unwarranted criticism" and a "political attack".

Ms Scholtens has worked in public and administrative law for three decades, including a decade as Crown Counsel at the Crown Law Office and as a solicitor in the public and private sector.

She was made Queen's Counsel in 2002, and acted as Counsel Assisting the 2004 Commission of Inquiry of Police Conduct.

The inquiry will begin on August 20 and last for six weeks. Its purpose is to examine, identify and report on the adequacy of the process that led to Mr Haumaha being appointed.

He was one of two recommendations Minister of Police Stuart Nash made to the Prime Minister for the role.

His appointment was questioned after it emerged he called the alleged police rape of Louise Nicholas "nonsense" during an investigation in 2004.

Ms Nicholas spoke out strongly against his appointment, and Mr Nash said he was not aware of Mr Haumaha's comments when he recommended him.

Earlier this week allegations surfaced that Mr Haumaha had bullied three women in 2015 and 2016, and they decided to stop working at the Police National Headquarters as a result.

Mr Nash was also unaware of those allegations when he made the recommendation.

If the inquiry finds that there were deficiencies in the appointment process, the Prime Minister will seek advice from the Solicitor General or the State Services Commissioner on how to proceed.

National Party police spokesperson Chris Bishop welcomed Ms Scholten's appointment but said there will still big questions for the Prime Minister and Mr Nash about why Mr Haumaha was appointed in the first place.

He said the terms of reference for the inquiry were still inadequate.