An outspoken Hawke's Bay District Health Board member is calling for the Minister of Health to have the board she claims "muzzled, reprimanded and bullied" her, removed.

Jacoby Poulain took to social media on Wednesday afternoon slamming the organisation she has been at odds with since May this year, as well as announce a petition she has created.

The dispute came about when she criticised Hawke's Bay Hospital over the care of a mother as Oranga Tamariki attempted to uplift her newborn baby.

The May 7 incident brought Oranga Tamariki's justifications for taking newborn babies from their mothers into the national spotlight.


Poulain, whose criticisms subsequently rankled those high up at Hawke's Bay Hospital, now says her reputation has been "hugely tarnished" and she has been treated like a "criminal".

"... A threat to my reputation threatens the rest of my life and that is wholly unfair for what started this."

Despite several attempts by Hawke's Bay Today to contact Poulain since the video came out, she did not answer.

In the video she claims she has been subject to "heavy reprimand from the board; the chairman and the board majority".

"This reprimand has got to such a point where I have been forced off psychologically. They will and they have argued otherwise. I have been subject to smear, slander, false accusation and major defamation."

In letters and meetings by chairman Kevin Atkinson, Poulain says she has been portrayed as "effectively breaching the code of conduct".

"It has been insinuated but that charge has never been laid or landed properly with me. I've received a lot of letters that push me around and insinuate many things about me similar to how I have been portrayed in the media by the board but have never landed a charge.

"Therefore it is impossible for somebody like me to mount my defence if I do not even know what the charge is."


She said: "The code of conduct is unlawful in that it overreaches and it purports to provide the chairman and the board and whoever is attempting to assert it, rights and rules and the ability to be able to do things that they do not have the ability to do by law; namely to suppress my speech."

Poulain, a qualified lawyer, has been a member of the board for six years. She too is a Hastings District councillor and is an EIT board member.

On July 31, Poulain texted Atkinson at 9.59am - one minute before the scheduled 10am start of the meeting - advising her intention to formally resign.

In the text message, she said: "Morning. My apologies for today's meeting. I was intending to come however I have been considering my options and have decided to resign, effective immediately. I will issue [an] official statement to you/board as soon as possible. Regards, Jacoby."

About a week later, she confirmed she had decided to stay on, and wouldn't send a formal resignation letter, but would not attend any further meetings.

She has subsequently put her hat in the ring in this year's Hawke's Bay District Health Board elections.


Furthermore, Poulain claims it has got to a point where it is "so psychologically unsafe that it is untenable to go".

She has not attended four consecutive board meetings since May, with the next due later this month.

During this time, Poulain claims she has "never" been given legal rights to defend herself even though she has "explicitly asked for them and [is] explicitly entitled to them by law".

"Therefore, I find myself in the most perverse situation where my voice as an elected representative has been pushed out and so is yours because I represent you ..."

Poulain also called into question the ethnicities and genders of the people who have been "locked out".

"All the people locked out have been women. We're all Maori, except for one," she claims.


"That mother never had a voice in the court to defend her child - this is a wholly unlawful, wholly abusive process."

Deputy chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana, who is currently filling in for Atkinson who is overseas at the moment, says Poulain's behaviour is "bizarre".

"She's had ample opportunity to kōrero," he told Hawke's Bay Today. At the time, he had not seen the video.

Tomoana says his main concern is for her "integrity".

He says he had "sympathised" with her, and has "always supported her stance".

However, he says the timing of her video "seems pivotal to the election and I think the electoral pressures may be getting to her".


"I think she may be ringfencing herself out," he says.

A spokesman for Minister of Health Dr David Clark said he had no comment.

"This remains an issue for the HBDHB, and it would not be appropriate for the Minister to comment this close to DHB elections."