1 In February 2003, Rodney Hide MP lodged a series of Questions for Written Answer for the Minister of Maori Affairs relating to Te Mangai Paho.
2 The questions concerned, in the main, Te Mangai Paho's contracts with Maori Sportscasting International (Te Reo Whakapaoho Takaro O Te Ao Limited), and payments to a Te Mangai Paho employee (Tame Te Rangi) for sports commentaries he had undertaken for Maori Sportscasting International.
3 A second, concurrent set of questions concerned a training wananga for Maori sportscasters run by Maori Sportscasting International with funding from Te Puni Kokiri. The questions focussed particularly on an awards dinner that was part of the wananga.
4 In all, Mr Hide asked over 200 questions, which could loosely be described as relating to Maori broadcasting, in the period from February to June 2003. In the same period, he addressed 20 or so questions for oral answer to the Minister.
5 Mr Te Rangi resigned from Te Mangai Paho in mid-March, after disclosure that he had in the past been convicted of theft and imprisoned. Following his resignation, Te Mangai Paho instituted an inquiry into matters concerning Mr Te Rangi, which was carried out by an external review team.
6 During the period following that external review both the Chair and Chief Executive of Te Mangai Paho tendered resignations that were accepted by the Board of Te Mangai Paho.
7 The external review established that information concerning Mr Te Rangi, which Te Mangai Paho had given to Te Puni Kokiri, was wrong in several respects, because of Mr Te Rangi's apparently deliberate concealment of the relevant information. As a consequence, the Minister of Maori Affairs' answers to several of Mr Hide's questions were wrong.
8 Separately, it emerged from Mr Hide's further questions that information as to who attended the Maori Sportscasting International awards dinner, which information was given to Te Puni Kokiri by Maori Sportscasting International, was also wrong in some respects.
9 The Minister had likewise used that information in answer to one of Mr Hide's questions.
10 From a "health of the public service management system" point of view, these events had predictable and potentially serious consequences. Predictably, the errors caused the Minister considerable embarrassment in the House. Furthermore, they led the Minister to lose confidence in his officials' ability to provide accurate and timely support for the Minister in his duties to the House.
11 Those circumstances are serious, possibly indicating:
- a lack of capability in the Ministry to support the constitutional mechanisms by which Parliament holds Ministers and thereby Government, to account; and
- a systemic impediment to the business of government through the deterioration of the relationship between a Minister and his chief executive and senior officials.
12 Since these are matters of fundamental importance that are central to your statutory role to review the performance of departments and chief executives, you commissioned this review.