Senior Labour MP Phil Goff visited a police station in
the wake of a murder to ask after a woman who was later charged
with the alleged crime.
He says he did so after attending a family gathering and
finding distressed relatives of the woman planning to march
to the station.
"I said, 'I just don't think you should be marching on the
police station because the police will be doing their job in
the proper way'."
Mr Goff said his intervention eased family concerns over
whether the woman had an interpreter and a lawyer - and when
they would discover her fate.
The woman, 31, and a man, 28, have since been charged with
the murder of Davender Singh, 35, who was found stabbed to
death in Papatoetoe just over a week ago.
MPs' contact with police became politically charged this year
with the resignation of Government minister Maurice
Williamson, who called police to inquire into charges against
a National Party donor for whom he had lobbied to get
Mr Goff said the visit came after a request from a Labour
Party member to visit the gathering following the death of Mr
Singh. On arriving at the gathering, at which National MP
Kanwaljit Bakshi was also present, he found a large group of
people upset at the police detention of a woman they knew.
A police sergeant was unable to answer questions, he said.
"The group was thinking of launching a protest outside the
police station. I said, 'I don't think that's a good idea'."
He said there were minority communities with experience in
their own countries which gave them less faith in police in
New Zealand than others might have.
Mr Goff said he volunteered to find out what the situation
was, particularly in relation to the family's concern the
woman had an interpreter or lawyer if needed.
"It was basically to ask the question if she was free to
come, if she had legal advice, if she had an interpreter."
He said he spoke to a senior officer, telling him he
respected "constabulary independence" and "I don't want to
interfere" but that people concerned about the woman were
He was told she had a meal, an interpreter, that police were
questioning another person and expected to give an answer to
the family by the end of the night. He said the information
was passed on to the family, which eased concerns they had.
He said it was a "constructive" rather than improper
"I was able to settle down a situation that was incredibly
tense ... It was, I think, helpful to both the family and
friends and police it was resolved in that way."
Mr Bakshi confirmed he arrived as Mr Goff was leaving for the
police station and entered the property to find those at the
gathering were "confused".
He said Mr Goff returned to say the woman had an interpreter
and a lawyer. "They were satisfied with that. It was quite an
Mr Bakshi said he would not comment on Mr Goff's actions but
would himself use "proper channels" to seek answers for
Superintendent John Tims confirmed the visit. "He had a short
conversation with a senior police officer and left the police
station shortly thereafter. He was making inquiries on behalf
of her family who had concerns regarding her welfare and were
unaware that she was a person of interest at that stage."
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said it appeared
Mr Goff had acted in a way "most New Zealanders would find
- David Fisher of NZ Herald