Marama Davidson says 'absolutely' appropriate for Darleen Tana to deliver maiden speech despite being stood down from portfolio

The Greens' co-leader is defending the party's decision to only stand down MP Darleen Tana on Thursday, despite knowing about a potential connection to migrant exploitation six weeks ago. 

E-Cycles NZ is owned by Tana's husband and the company allegedly took on an employee on a visitors' visa - paying them cash until they landed their working visa.  

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said Tana told the party on February 1 an Employment Relations Authority complaint had been laid against her husband's company.  

Davidson told AM she was only made aware on Thursday that Tana may have known about the allegations earlier. 

"[On February 1] she herself raised to us that a complaint had been laid with the Employment Relations Authority. To our knowledge, there was no involvement from Ms Tana but, as a precaution, we stood her down from the small business portfolio immediately following that news," Davidson said on Friday. 

"Only until yesterday... was when it became clear that there may have been some prior knowledge from Ms Tana of the allegations and so that is why we're taking this seriously." 

AM host Melissa Chan-Green asked if it was appropriate for Tana to still deliver her maiden speech on February 14, two weeks after being stood down as the Greens' small business spokesperson. 

Davidson said it was "absolutely" appropriate "because, at that point, there was no indication for us that there was any involvement or knowledge in any of the allegations". 

"All of our MPs - it was appropriate for them to carry on with what they need to do to do their work." 

A Stuff report on Friday said an employee of E-Bikes NZ claimed to be owed around $25,000 in holiday pay and wages. 

The Greens have now appointed an independent lawyer to "make sure that there is independence in determining exactly what was known and when", Davidson said. 

"That is exactly why we have taken the quite serious step of appointing an independent investigator; to get to the bottom of that, make sure that there is natural justice for everyone involved - including Ms Tana - and to make sure we can get an independent outcome on exactly what was known, and when." 

Tana first entered Parliament after last year's election. She holds multiple portfolios including overseas New Zealanders, internal affairs and, up until February 1, was the party's small business spokesperson.