Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confident investigation will get to bottom of Te Pāti Māori allegations

  • 11/06/2024

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is reassuring the public that investigations will get to the bottom of allegations Te Pāti Māori misused private data during the 2023 election. 

Luxon on Monday announced the Public Service Commission will launch an independent inquiry. It joins the investigations underway by the Police, Stats NZ, the Privacy Commissioner and the Electoral Commission.  

Several government agencies were also called into a meeting last week to ensure the allegations were thoroughly investigated. These included Ministry of Health, Health NZ, Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kokiri and Oranga Tamariki. 

Appearing on Monday, Luxon defended the need for multiple investigations into the serious allegations. 

"What's important is New Zealanders have trust and confidence in their public institutions and so we're in very much a fact-finding phase," Luxon told co-host Lloyd Burr. 

Luxon believes the government agency investigations aren't sufficient as they will likely be narrow in scope due to only being relevant to a particular agency. 

"I don't think that's enough," he said. "I don't think an individual agency looking at and reviewing its own activity is sufficient and therefore that's why I put in place yesterday a Public Service Commission." 

The Commission investigation will look into the safeguards that government agencies had in place to protect people's personal data and whether any conflicts of interest, real or perceived, have been managed appropriately. 

"Whether the allegations are true, or not true, it's important that there is a real dispassionate, objective investigation," he said. 

"… We will get to the bottom of it." 

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

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

Employment advocate Allan Hulse, who is representing six former marae staff and one Ministry of Social Development (MSD) worker, said 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 of the allegations 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 said. 

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has made a complaint alleging a phone number it believes is owned by the Waipareira Trust sent campaign texts for Te Pati Māori without a promotor statement. 

The complaint also claims the texts were sent to phone numbers the trust collected during a COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

Te Pati Māori denies the allegations and said it welcomes an investigation.