Green MP Darleen Tana's husband denies her involvement in migrant exploitation scandal

A Green MP has been suspended and an independent lawyer has been hired by the party to investigate allegations the MP was involved in migrant exploitation. 

An Employment Relations Authority complaint has been taken against Darleen Tana's husband's e-bike company - with one worker claiming he's owed tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and holiday pay. 

But despite the Greens knowing about the ERA complaint since the start of February, Tana was only suspended on Thursday. 

"You don't know nothing, I don't know nothing," Tana's husband Christian Hoff-Nielsen said.

"She's had nothing to do with the business for many many years."

On Friday morning, Stuff reported a worker claims he's owed $25,000 in wages and holiday pay from E-cycles NZ - trading as Bikes and Beyond. Hoff-Nielsen categorically denies allegations he's exploited migrant workers.

Tana was a director of the company until 2019. The worker also alleged that he'd raised the issue of late or unpaid wages twice with Tana herself and that she'd asked him for IT help on her election campaign. 

"I'm the man with the spanner and my wife is the one who has the head with the books. It might be very cool to have four kids and have dinner at home but it's not very sexy to talk about employment relations matters at home," Hoff-Nielsen said.

When asked whether Tana knew about the issue, Hoff-Nielsen replied "She had no idea".

But on Thursday, the Green Party began questioning that and hired a lawyer to find out what Tana knew and when. 

The Greens declined Newshub's request to interview Tana, pointing us to co-leader Marama Davidson instead. 

"We know the allegations are serious which is why we are getting to the bottom of what Darleen knew and did not know," Davidson said.

Darleen Tana.
Darleen Tana. Photo credit: The Green Party

The Greens have known about an Employment Relations Authority complaint detailing as such since February 1, and a second complaint against the company filed on February 9. 

"We thought we would take the precautionary step while the mediation was happening for her to step away from the small business portfolio," Davidson said.

But on Thursday Tana was suspended. 

"It wasn't until yesterday, March 14, that we became aware of new information that we may need to further investigate exactly what Darleen knew and was involved with," Davidson said.

The Green Party is one of the most vocal when it comes to migrant exploitation but kept the allegations they knew about quiet for six weeks. 

"We will always be upfront when we are clear exactly what it is we are dealing with but they are still allegations - they are still not fully known facts," Davidson said.

Davidson repeatedly refused to disclose to Newshub whether Tana had denied the allegations to the party. Her husband however categorically denied the allegation.

"Yeah, completely yep, that's it, there's no more to say," he said.

Tana in a statement said she welcomes the investigation and "intends to cooperate fully". She added she will not be commenting further.

Employers who exploit migrants can face up to seven years in prison and be fined up to $100,000.