Support for teens tardy, PM agrees

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admits the Labour Party took too long to offer support to four teens allegedly sexually assaulted at one of its summer camps.

But she has balked at suggestions party officials should have reported the incident to police, against the wishes of the four.

Ms Ardern also admitted yesterday it was not appropriate for alcohol to be at the camp, but camp-goers had brought it along, she told the AM Show.

She denied it was a problem that she had only found out about the alleged assault on Monday.

The more important issue was whether the teens had been supported properly, she said.

Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton apologised on Monday for the distress caused and said a review was under way into the policies and processes concerning the annual camps.

Newsroom has reported a 20-year-old man allegedly assaulted the 16-year-olds, two males and two females, by putting his hands down the pants of at least three of them during a party on the second night of the camp near Waihi last month.

The man was ejected from the camp the next day.

Late yesterday, it was revealed there had been a similar allegation of assault at a previous Labour summer camp.

Mr Kirton told One News: "I'm aware of an individual ... I spoke with today about their experience at a previous event.''

No details were given. Newshub reported the previous event was believed to have involved a camp two or three years ago.

Ms Ardern, who spoke to the latest camp before the incidents, said the teens told camp organisers they did not want to report them to police.

Organisers later contacted them again to offer support through the Sexual Abuse Help Wellington service, but the delay was "too long'' Ms Ardern said.

It was a tricky decision for organisers as to whether they should ignore the wishes of the teens and go to police.

It also emerged yesterday Energy Minister Megan Woods found out about sexual assault allegations more than a week before the Prime Minister learned about them from reporters.

A spokesman for Dr Woods confirmed she received a Facebook message about the most recent incident earlier this month and immediately contacted Mr Kirton.

"Two hours later she heard from the general secretary that he had been in touch with the young person and the situation was being handled appropriately,'' the spokesman said.

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