Louise Nicholas says she warned police that promoting Wally Haumaha would "come back and bite you in the arse" — and it did.

But whatever the outcome of the inquiry starting next Monday, I'm a bit uneasy.

That's for reasons to do with Nicholas' role in the controversy over making Haumaha a deputy commissioner.

Nicholas is admirable as an advocate for victims of sexual violence, and has been honoured for it. Her own alleged rape case, allegedly dating to 1984, brought to police attention in 1993, and shockingly mishandled, led to the resignation of an assistant commissioner she accused.


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It failed against two cops in 2006, but they were afterwards revealed to be in jail for another rape.

I would have been furious, and I'm sure she was, that the jury was not told this. But there was one positive outcome.

She was taken on by police as an adviser on handling sexual violence complaints, an act of atonement and a good idea in theory, although it meant Nicholas could be both inside the tent, where she had suffered injustice, and outside at the same time.

Having read her police file, she knew that Haumaha had downplayed her rape allegation and vouched for the character of her alleged rapists at the time.

That's not something you'd forget, and she didn't.

She learned earlier this year that Haumaha was in line for promotion, and reportedly "warned the executive" not to go ahead with it. That sounds like an ultimatum to me, and since she spoke out publicly when he got the job, she seems to have triggered further complaints, from other women, about him.

These complaints may be proven. Haumaha was unsympathetic to Nicholas in the past, and a fool to take a macho, matey stand in support of the police she accused.


It was 34 years ago, more than half his lifetime, and if he stands by that behaviour today he is surely unsuitable for police work, yet alone promotion. Claims he bullied three female policy analysts from the Justice and Corrections ministries more recently, to the point where they walked out of police headquarters to work elsewhere, are concerning.

He has apologised to Nicholas, but she has been reported as saying, "He didn't look me in the eye when I challenged him".

It's possible, on another reading, that as a Māori he felt shame and expressed it this way. It wouldn't be the first time that lowered eyes led to cultural misunderstanding.

Women who Nicholas says have complained to her about Haumaha over time have not made formal complaints as far as we know. Maybe the three policy analysts will.

Meanwhile Forestry Minister Shane Jones has commented on a "mare's nest" situation of leakages to media. It would be useful to know who drives those leaks, and why.

The inquiry is looking into why the State Services Commission was not made aware of Haumaha's comments before the appointment was made and whether it was provided all the information it needed to make the decision.

Haumaha may be deeply unpopular among police and in the world in general. I wouldn't know. But isn't there an issue of fairness here, where a person's appointment to a senior role in a branch of government has someone with cause to have a grudge against him denouncing him publicly from within that very branch of government?

If everyone with a grudge had access to every job application the country would grind to a halt.
Few of us are universally loved, few of us have been entirely wise all our lives, but people change, and he could have along with the rest of us.

What's left hanging over this affair is an unavoidable suspicion of revenge. It is unfortunate that it seems to taint the accuser as well as the accused.