Haumaha to remain Deputy Police Commissioner

By Talisa Kupenga

Deputy Police Commissioner Wallace 'Wally' Haumaha will keep his job after legal advice to the prime minister detailed no "clear and proper" basis to support dismissal.

This comes after the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA)'s report, released Thursday morning, found Haumaha was sometimes inappropriate, unprofessional and intimidating towards staff in 2016.

“I’m very disappointed with the inappropriate behaviour attributed by the IPCA to Wally Haumaha, but the solicitor general has advised that there is not a clear and proper basis to support his removal,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

National's police spokesman Chris Bishop says Haumaha needs to be sacked.

"Somebody must be able to get rid of Wally Haumaha.  We believe it's the prime minister, she appointed him, she can get rid of him- she should do so."

The solicitor general’s legal advice to the prime minister says Ardern can recommend the appointment of a deputy commissioner and also recommend to the governor general that the deputy commissioner be removed from office.

Ardern says, “This is absolutely clear.  There is inappropriate behaviour here and for me that is not acceptable, but the threshold that needs to be met for Mr Haumaha's removal from the job has not been met."

The IPCA report into allegations of bullying found Haumaha had been aggressive in asserting his authority and belittled staff from the Ministry of Justice and Corrections during a high-pressure project aimed at improving outcomes for Māori.

But the report says but while that behaviour was somewhat consistent with the common usage of the term “bullying” it did meet the threshold of the WorkSafe definition for the workplace.  

Bishop says, "The report does note that it meets the colloquial definition of bullying.  It found that he was belittling, humiliating, intimidating and that he acted inappropriately and unprofessionally.  It's just not tenable that the second top police person in the country can exhibit that sort of behaviour and stay in the job.”

Ardern says, "I have sent a very clear message to the commissioner of police, I expect him to work alongside Mr Haumaha to lift his professional behaviour and to meet my expectations."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says while the investigation did not find evidence of bullying the report has raised issues he is taking seriously.

Te Kāea asked if Haumaha would be dismissed but the commissioner did not respond.

Haumaha was appointed to the role in May 2018.