High-ranking public servant denies personally intervening in Fred Again case, says she's subject of hate mail

Fred Again just played three sold-out shows in New Zealand.
Fred Again just played three sold-out shows in New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

A high-ranking public servant is in hot water with the Minister of Internal Affairs for messaging international DJ Fred Again to help him get a passport for a friend.

The celebrity - who just played three sold-out shows - posted a plea on Instagram for someone to help expedite a passport for Wellington DJ Tessa Hills, whose stage name is MESSIE, so she could tour with him to Australia.

He tagged the official Parliament account, begging: "Please please can anybody help us with this!"

Fred Again later shared a screenshot of a private message from the deputy chief executive of the Department of Internal Affairs Maria Robertson.

Robertson said in the message: "My son got in touch with Tessa after seeing your post, Tessa got in touch with us, she's made her application and we are sorting it with her. We love your music and we are thrilled you are backing one of our own to support your gig."

But the Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden has sought assurances from the passport office and the department about the chain of events that led to the passport approval to ensure that all proper processes were followed.

Van Velden was also concerned that a citizen's privacy could have been breached because details of a passport application were shared publicly.

"Every citizen should have the same rights, no matter how famous they are or what their status is in our community," she said.

Robertson told Newshub on Wednesday she did not personally intervene in the application - she just told her son to pass on the details for the emergency passport applications.

"I said to him, 'If you can get in touch with the DJ that Fred Again's referring to and tell her there's an urgent service that she can use, we can pick it up from there'."

Robertson said the perception of special interest "was a problem if people believe that somehow we have delivered a different service because of who they are. We have not".

Robertson said she'd received between 50 and 60 negative messages accusing her and her son of intervening and giving special treatment.

"It's distressing to read but the key thing is that none of it is accurate."

When asked whether she had any regrets, Robertson said: "I'm in a role where people contact me all the time in relation to situations where they're in that they need help. They could be overseas, they could be here".

"At all times what I try to do is actually provide the bridge between the person contacting us - I'm a public servant - and the people in our business and our organisation that can best help them. That's exactly what I did in this situation and that's what I'll keep doing."

Robertson did confirm to Newshub that Hills had picked up her passport.

Hills and Fred Again did not respond to Newshub's interview requests.