Department of Conservation confirms staff member removed from Maggie Barry's office

Ms Barry at parliament
Ms Barry at parliament Photo credit: Newshub

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has confirmed issues were raised regarding the relationship between at least one DoC staff member and National Party MP Maggie Barry during her time in office.

DoC has confirmed to Newshub at least one staff member was removed from the former minister's office due to disputes or a challenging relationship with staff.

DoC wouldn't provide further details, saying doing so would impede the review into bullying at Parliament, ordered by Speaker Trevor Mallard.

Newshub understand four people have now raised issues about Ms Barry's relationship with staff - some via media and some through official channels.

DoC staff worked with Ms Barry while she was Minister for Conservation (2014-2017).

Late last year Ms Barry faced a series of allegations of bullying, including a claim she'd referred to department officials as "hired help".

A former staff member told Newshub Ms Barry was "totally intimidating" and would "attack and belittle" staff members.

Two separate claims of bullying in Ms Barry's office were investigated after May 2018.

In December Ms Barry told Newshub those complaints had been investigated by Parliamentary Services and there was "no finding bullying or harassment had occurred."

Former staff members also claim Ms Barry had staff work on National party business.

Following media reporting, one former staff member took a complaint about the matter to the Auditor-General. 

A similar claim was made by a former staff member, who provided Newshub with an email that appeared to show Ms Barry directing the staff member to work on party matters.

A National Party spokesperson said DoC had "one permanent private secretary and others were rotated, often for short secondments, through the Minister of Conservation's office to give them experience in the Beehive".

"As Ministerial Services has confirmed, there were no complaints regarding Maggie Barry at any time in the three years she was a minister in relation to their staff employed in her office."



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