Te Puea leak dirty politics – Mahuta

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta and Te Puea Marae are continuing to back the marae's chairman Hurimoana Dennis after a Paula Bennett staffer disclosed to media that he was under investigation.

Mahuta believes Paula Bennett's staff member should resign.

“Paula has apologised, but it's a huge concern that her staffer did that to discredit the good work going on at Te Puea Marae,” says Mahuta.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says the staff member did offer to resign, “I said, I didn't think that was necessary.”

Meanwhile, marae workers are continuing to support the chairman.

“Through this time I really do support him, because he knows how to handle people, how to talk to them nicely,” says marae volunteer Mona Kingi.

Dennis told Paula Bennett that he was under police investigation when they met at an Auckland cafe last week to discuss government assistance for the marae.

Labour MP Phil Twyford raised more questions in Parliament today over the issue.

“Was the staff member who joined her for the meeting with Hurimoana Dennis at the Mt Eden cafe the same staff member who passed the information about the police investigation to the journalist?”

Bennett responded with, “Mr. Speaker I’m unwilling to confirm or deny whether or not it was the same staff member because I think it might identify them and I don’t think that if fair.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key says he still has confidence in the minister.

“One thing about Paula, she wears her heart on her sleeve.  She's very upfront with people, she doesn't lie to people, and she certainly wouldn't lie to me.  Yes her staff members made a mistake.”

Police say Dennis was stood down from duty in September last year because of a pending police investigation.

Mahuta says, “The government needs to be doing its job to ensure these families are housed.”

Te Kāea contacted Hurimoana Dennis for an interview but he was unable to comment.