A convicted paedophile who is awaiting trial on serious child sexual abuse image charges worked at two Weet-Bix kids' TRYathlons, attended by hundreds of children.

The Herald can also reveal the man was hired to work eight times at Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat), including three "family events".

The revelations have exposed a serious gap in police vetting of contractors, with a raft of agencies now reviewing internal policies to protect vulnerable children following Herald investigations.

The man had access to at least 10 schools after being hired on kids' TV show What Now by production company Whitebait Media, which is co-owned by former children's entertainer Jason Gunn and which earns millions of dollars each year from NZ On Air.

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Jason Gunn and wife Janine Morrell-Gunn own Whitebait Media, which produces What Now.
Jason Gunn and wife Janine Morrell-Gunn own Whitebait Media, which produces What Now.

Customs is now investigating whether the man breached his bail conditions not to associate with children through promotional work involving kids with both Motat and NZ Football.

The man was jailed several years ago for sexually abusing underage girls, but was able to land numerous freelance jobs after his release, often involving children.

He was arrested last year in a Customs swoop and now faces a raft of charges relating to thousands of child abuse image and video files allegedly founds on his electronic devices.

The Herald has confirmed the man was contracted to work at two Sanitarium Weet-Bix kids' TRYathlons in Auckland in 2018 and 2019.

One of the contracts was through production company 90 Seconds. The other was through the Herald's publisher NZME.

Sanitarium said the company had strict vetting and risk management policies. Contractors were supervised at all times.

"We are endeavouring to contact the parents of children that attended the events to inform them of this individual's attendance.

"We are obviously very disappointed and concerned that an individual with this background is able to work in the industry in this way."

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Sanitarium said it expected third-party suppliers to vet contractors they employed.

"We continue to review our vetting processes for future events, and we are determined to ensure that this situation cannot happen again."

In a statement, NZME said the man's company was hired at several events supported by NZME, including last year's TRYathlon. He attended the event but was accompanied by NZME staff.

Risk assessments were carried out whenever NZME teams supported external events, including the requirement that no team member was left alone with children.

NZME was reviewing internal processes to ensure all possible steps were taken to protect children.

"NZME fully supports industry bodies on their efforts to establish industry-wide child safety protocols."

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Michael Frawley, CEO of Motat Museum, says the organisation is reviewing its vetting policies. Photo / File
Michael Frawley, CEO of Motat Museum, says the organisation is reviewing its vetting policies. Photo / File

Meanwhile, Motat has confirmed its marketing and communications team hired the man eight times, including on three "family events" - Night Lights, Christmas Lights and Slime Weekend - after his arrest on Customs charges.

Motat director Michael Frawley said while most of the projects involved children, Motat staff and parents were present and supervising throughout.

The man was not vetted because his work did not fall within the provisions of Motat's child protection policy and he was not working unsupervised with children.

And while Motat had "extensive" vetting requirements, "we are going to review our policies and procedure as we take the safety and security of our visitors and team extremely seriously".

On Sunday, the Herald revealed the man was hired by 90 Seconds last year for promotional work at NZ Football involving children.

NZ Football said it was "deeply disturbed" by the revelations and appalled to learn that 90 Seconds had known about the man's background since March this year.

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90 Seconds founder Tim Norton says the company did not alert NZ Football to the man's criminal background because it feared breaching suppression. Photo / File
90 Seconds founder Tim Norton says the company did not alert NZ Football to the man's criminal background because it feared breaching suppression. Photo / File

However, 90 Seconds founder Tim Norton said the company did not alert NZ Football because it feared breaching suppression laws.

The Herald has confirmed the man originally had name suppression but this lapsed in February.

"We did not reach out to our handful of affected clients as the matter was before the courts and police. That remains the case.

"I sincerely apologise to all our clients, and to the parents and children who were present at [jobs] this freelancer was contracted for."

Norton said the man was immediately dismissed in March this year to preserve the safety of 90 Seconds' clients and team.

The incident was a timely reminder to ensure external contractors, and not just staff, were vetted, Norton said.

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The Herald has chosen not to name the man while he is still before the court.