Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announces Public Service Commission inquiry into Census data allegations linked to Te Pāti Māori

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Public Service Commission will launch an independent inquiry after allegations Te Pāti Māori misused private data during the 2023 election.

Te Pati Māori is facing mounting investigations into whether it has misused Census data and information collected from people who had COVID-19 vaccinations for electioneering.

The Privacy Commissioner, Electoral Commission, Police and Stats NZ are already investigating the allegations.

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Luxon said these allegations are serious, and they "go to the heart of trust and confidence" in our democratic processes.

"I have directed the Public Service Commission to initiate an independent inquiry into the safeguards that government agencies had in place to protect people's personal data and the circumstances surrounding these allegations," he said.

"New Zealanders must have confidence the data they provide to Government agencies is used appropriately."

Te Pāti Māori was not notified before today's announcement. When asked why, Luxon told media "it's moving quickly."

"We are in the fact-finding phase of this investigation," he added.

Luxon said anyone with information should approach Police.

Te Pati Māori told Newshub it welcomes the investigation.

It was revealed a complaint had been laid about campaign texts sent by the Waipareira Trust, which is run by Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere.

The complaints centre around Te Pati Māori MP Takutai Tarsh Kemp, who won her Tāmaki Makaurau seat in Parliament by just 42 votes.

Before being elected, Kemp was the chief executive of Manurewa Marae, which ran a massive census drive.

Employment advocate Allan Hulse is representing six former marae staff and one Ministry of Social Development (MSD) worker - a number have made complaints, one with the police - saying the census data was used for Te Pati Māori campaigning.

"We know upwards of 1400 census forms were photocopied and then that data was put, as I said, into the database that we believe was owned by Waipareira Trust," Hulse said.

"The second stage involved staff assisting people to transfer from the general to the Māori roll and they believe that information was obtained from the census form," Hulse told Newshub.

The allegations - which are strongly rejected by the party - were first revealed in the Sunday Star Times.

Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere has called for anyone to produce "hard evidence" and described "unsubstantiated sources" as unhelpful.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Willie Jackson has called out the media's treatment of Te Pati Māori over the Manurewa Marae scandal.

During a fiery interview on AM, Jackson said the same level of scrutiny should be placed on the National Party after its MP failed to declare almost $180,000 in candidate donations.