In the House today, Chris Bishop said:
I can also reveal that Mr Haumaha was not the preferred candidate of the panel. The Cabinet paper proposing his appointment does not state that he was the preferred candidate, but he was appointed anyway by the Prime Minister. The big question is “Why?”, particularly in light of what happened next.
This is a big part of the mystery. Why was Haumaha appointed by the Prime Minister despite not being the preferred candidate?
Today I can also reveal that Winston Peters rang Wally Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be OK. That is deeply, wildly inappropriate. Mr Peters needs to explain who invited him to the marae, why he rang Wally Haumaha to assure him that things would be OK despite an inquiry into his appointment, and why he thinks Mr Haumaha should stay in the role while he is subject to two separate investigations, with a third on the way. Until those questions are answered, this scandal will continue to dog the Prime Minister and her Government.
If this is correct, this is huge.
We know Haumaha has multiple links to NZ First and was selected as a candidate for them in 2005.
Peters as Acting Prime Minister appointed a fellow NZ First Minister to be in charge of the inquiry into him. If Peters did assume Haumaha that “things would be okay” then his decision to appoint Tracey Martin is deeply problematic, to put it mildly.
UPDATE: Peters has put out a statement denying he rang Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. It is unclear if he also held up a No sign.