Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has no regrets about admitting she committed benefit fraud, or so she said as she emerged from her first meeting with Ministry of Social Development investigators.
It was Turei's first meeting with the ministry since revealing last month that she lied to Work and Income while on the domestic purposes benefit in the 1990s. She was not accompanied by a lawyer.
As she emerged from her meeting with two ministry investigators on Thursday she maintained the admission had the result she wanted.
"We have had a national conversation about what welfare is like, how hard it is, how impossible it is for people to live well and that we need a more compassionate and caring welfare system, not one that penalises people," she said.
"I don't regret a minute."
Turei says she is still unsure whether she will be prosecuted.
Turei admitted to being a bit nervous ahead of the meeting. She said the investigators had asked for information about where she lived and what she was paying in rent, but was not given any indication about whether it would lead to a prosecution.
Because of the complexity of the investigation, it appears unlikely to be resolved before the general election.
Between 1995 and 1998, Turei did not disclose to WINZ that she had extra flatmates in three different houses while she was on the DPB. She was a solo mother at the time and studying at law school, and feared she would have her welfare cut if she revealed her living situation to authorities.
She said today she was "very clear" to investigators that she would be repaying any money she owed. The total amount owed was not yet known.
Turei said the meeting also provided an insight into the welfare system and the sanctions beneficiaries faced.
"I can certainly see how people who don't have the resources that I do would find that quite traumatic."
While she was treated fairly and with respect, she said "I don't think that's the experience of most people who have to deal with MSD".
She said she was in a much more comfortable position than most beneficiaries under investigation because she was financially secure. had a law degree, and was not at risk of losing her payments.
Turei's party has promised to scrap all benefit sanctions and work obligations if it gets into government.
- additional reporting from Karen Sweeney, AAP