Minister stands aside amid 'staffing matter' probe

Meka Whaitiri. Photo: NZ Herald
Meka Whaitiri. Photo: NZ Herald

Government Minister Meka Whaitiri will stand aside from her portolios amid an investigation into a 'staffing matter' in her office.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had accepted Whaitiri's offer to stand aside while the investigation was carried out.

While the matter, which has not been disclosed, was being investigated, Kris Faafoi would act as Customs Minister.

Whaitiri's Associate Minister responsibilities in Agriculture, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations would revert to the lead portfolio ministers.

"Meka Whaitiri has told me she will be fully co-operating with the investigation, which will be thorough and conducted as quickly as possible," Ardern said in a statement.

Ardern and Whaitiri, who is a Minister outside Cabinet, said they would not comment further, citing privacy reasons, while the investigation was carried out by Ministerial Services.

It is the second Labour Government Minister within a week to fall, after Clare Curran was demoted from Cabinet, losing two portfolios last Friday over her mishandling of a meeting with entrepreneur Derek Handley.

It was strike two for Curran after she failed to disclose a late-night Beehive meeting with Handley over the chief technology officer role.

Curran did not diary the meeting and no staff were present. She also failed to mention the meeting in response to written questions.

Former RNZ executive Carol Hirschfeld lost her job after she and Curran met at a Wellington cafe, a meeting they described as coincidental when it had been arranged.

Ardern was advised of the staffing matter last night.


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