Ministry for Pacific Peoples beefs up security after 'increased scrutiny' - minister Barbara Edmonds

Minister for Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds says her ministry is needing to implement extra security as a result of the "increased scrutiny" on it.

Two men attempted to enter the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) last Thursday morning to question staff about spending. They were escorted out of the building and police were called. 

Edmonds on Tuesday told media the ministry was having to introduce extra security measures as a result of "increased scrutiny".

"I understand that as a result of what had happened around the incident last week that they've had to look at and bring on new security measures," she said.

A ministry spokesperson told Newshub it had "enhanced its security measures following the attempted unlawful entry of two males in the Wellington office last week".

"As an interim measure, security guards have been stationed outside our offices and staff have been given safety guidelines to follow. 

"While last week's incident left some at the Ministry feeling anxious, we are working with our staff to ensure their safety and wellbeing is prioritised."

Edmonds also took aim at comments made by ACT leader David Seymour last week.

Just after midday last Thursday, ACT sent out a press release about abolishing the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. It took issue with the ministry spending $121,000 in one year on Prezzy Cards and also the nearly $40,000 farewell event it held for its departing chief executive.

The spending on that event has received heavy criticism, including from the Public Service Commission and Edmonds, as being neither moderate nor conservative. 

Later on Thursday, when speaking to Newstalk ZB, Seymour said: "In my fantasy, we'd send a guy called Guy Fawkes in there and it'd be all over, but we'll probably have to have a more formal approach than that."

The ACT leader on Tuesday said he didn't regret making the joke and it wasn't race-based.

"I regret the way people have for political purposes tried to make a joke about Government waste one about race. I think people need to get a bit of a grip here. It's about a 400-year-old dead guy who failed in his mission, it is clearly a joke."

He has claimed to have made the comment before about other government departments at public meetings as he scrutinises government wasteful spending.

Edmonds called Seymour's remark "completely irresponsible" and "not funny".

The minister said she had written to Seymour asking him to retract and apologise for the comment, but she said he "won't enter into a constructive discussion about it" as he believes she has politicised it.

Seymour told Newshub he had been "enormously disappointed" the letter had earlier made its way into the media.

"I am always open to working collegially with my colleagues, especially when matters of safety are concerned. But when somebody writes a letter, apparently so they can tell the media, instead of actually to engage in a dialogue, that chips away at the good faith. My good faith is still there for her. But clearly, that letter wasn't sincere or serious."

Last Friday, Edmonds said she had written to Seymour asking for a retraction and apology, but didn't provide the actual letter.

Edmonds said on Tuesday that no one outside of her office and Seymour's office had seen the actual letter.