The investigation into unexplained spending by the former chief executive of Waikato District Health Board raised questions about expenses he claimed associated with a woman who was not his wife.

The Herald understands the investigation into Dr Nigel Murray's spending found evidence of travel and accommodation expenses paid for by taxpayers for at least one woman he was not married to.

And that on one occasion Murray was unaccounted for, for several days, when he was meant to be working.

In August the Herald revealed Murray was a no-show at a March 2015 United States conference and site visits he was invited to as part of a group of 35 New Zealand healthcare workers.

Murray said he was conducting other business at the time, including meeting with IT firm HealthTap to advance opportunities for the DHB's virtual health strategy, which resulted in the SmartHealth app.


It's understood the inquiry also scrutinised the alleged cashing in of a premium economy ticket for two economy seats on an Air New Zealand flight where the difference was paid by taxpayers, and of a rental car paid for by the DHB that was allegedly parked at a Canadian airport unused for weeks.

Expenses relating to a second woman, who worked briefly for the DHB in 2014, were also understood to be a focus.

Both women were believed to be Canadian.

The investigation was launched on July 22, after three senior members of Murray's executive team blew the whistle over his expenses which totalled a comparatively high $108,000 for his first two years in the job.

The managers escalated initial concerns raised by Murray's executive assistant, whose job it was to file the expenses.

Murray's resignation was announced by Waikato DHB on October 5, the same day board members heard a report into the findings.

In a statement the DHB said the independent inquiry identified Murray spent more than the agreed $25,000 allocated for his relocation costs from Canada and "other unauthorised expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive's obligations".

When Murray returned from British Columbia in July 2014 to take up the $560,000 a year job at Waikato DHB, taxpayers forked out $11,710 for early arrival accommodation costs, after he left his job at Fraser Health Authority earlier than expected.

It's believed Murray's wife of 30 years, Nicola Murray, did not live with him at a Hamilton hotel during the three months the DHB paid for his accommodation.

The $1.2 million Tamahere villa owned by Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray. He does not live there but his wife does. Photo / Mike Scott.
The $1.2 million Tamahere villa owned by Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray. He does not live there but his wife does. Photo / Mike Scott.

In December 2014 Murray bought a house in the exclusive rural suburb of Tamahere, with property records listing him as the sole owner.

However, the Herald understands Murray does not live in the house, even though property records show he took possession of it on January 16, 2015.

The certificate of title shows his wife filed a notice of claim on the house under the Property Relationships Act 1976, just three days after the January settlement.

She declined to comment to the Herald about Murray's living arrangements when he first arrived in New Zealand, but confirmed Murray did not live at the $1.2 million villa with her.

Waikato District Health Board chairman Bob Simcock has not answered questions about Murray's travelling or living arrangements related to public money. He today said, through a DHB spokeswoman, he would respond to the Herald's questions "in a couple of days".


Murray also has not returned calls.

The DHB has so far refused requests under the Official Information Act to release information related to the investigation.

However, a spokeswoman said the DHB would likely release all responses to requests for details of Murray's expenses on its website soon.

That included Murray's expenses for his third year at the DHB which were due to be filed by the end of July.

A second ongoing investigation by Audit New Zealand into the processes and management of Murray's expenses was expected to conclude at the end of October.