Radio NZ chairman Richard Griffin told a National MP that Carol Hirschfeld was going to quit over the coffee meeting saga with Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.
National MP Melissa Lee, who has been pursuing Curran over the cafe meeting, has revealed that Griffin gave her a heads-up that Hirschfeld was going to resign on Tuesday.
She told the Herald she had no idea why Griffin rang her and that she was surprised to receive the call. "I guess it was because he knew I was the one who had asked those questions. He probably thought he owed me the courtesy of a heads-up," she said.
"I thanked him and hung up."
The Labour Government was briefed on Monday that Hirschfeld was going to resign.
Griffin told the Herald he rang Lee at the same time the media statement on Tuesday was released as a matter of courtesy because she had asked a series of questions around the meeting.
The now infamous meeting at a Wellington cafe between Curran and Hirschfeld led to the resignation of the latter yesterday.
Radio NZ bosses say she misled them for four months by claiming she had bumped into Curran by coincidence. It's now been confirmed the meeting was planned.
Curran today released the text messages she exchanged with Hirschfeld, arranging a meeting between the pair.
The text messages, which span November 3 to November 23, show Curran was "keen to catch up soon" with Hirschfeld.
Curran, who is also the Minister for Open Government, said she had no intention of resigning over the meeting, saying again that her only mistake was failing to disclose the meeting in her original answer to a parliamentary question on December 7.
The minister's spokeswoman confirmed Curran initiated the meeting.
The texts reveal Curran had repeatedly tried to set up a meeting with Hirschfeld from November 3, just days after she was sworn in as Broadcasting Minister on October 26.
After a back and forth on availability and dates, they settle on December 5. Curran suggests the time of 8.15am at a venue "somewhere near Bowen House entrance off Lambton Quay", Curran then suggests Astoria.
"Perfect," Hirschfeld replies.
Curran's spokeswoman declined to say who in Curran's office contacted RNZ to correct Hirschfeld's assertion that it was a chance encounter, or who at RNZ had been contacted.
Hirschfeld's resignation on Tuesday followed four months of her denying that the meeting was arranged.
Hirschfeld repeatedly told Radio NZ bosses that the meeting was a chance encounter, despite it being recorded in the minister's diary for five days before the meeting, and two attempts by the minister to tell RNZ that Hirschfeld was wrong.
Curran has been under pressure over the meeting, which has lead to questions about possible Government interference in the editorial direction of the state broadcaster, and why the minister was meeting with RNZ's head of news rather than board chairman Richard Griffin or chief executive Paul Thompson.
Speaking in Auckland this morning, Curran said she wouldn't resign, saying it wasn't a secret meeting as it was in a public, busy cafe.
"I don't see how having meeting in one of Wellington's busiest cafes could ever be considered a secret meeting."
She said Hirschfeld was a "friendly acquaintance", and the meeting was a "catch-up".
They discussed the future of New Zealand media at a "high level", including the announced $38 million in Government spending, and about RNZ+ "as I had had done in public and with multiple stakeholders".
"It was five weeks after the election and there was confusion and questions around what the policy meant and how it would play out."
Nothing was discussed that wasn't already in the public domain, Curran said.
"There'd been a commitment before the election by the Labour Party to put $38 million into a media strategy that included Radio NZ and NZ On Air," Curran said this morning.
The whole episode unravelled yesterday with Hirschfeld's resignation as head of RNZ content, Curran's admission of wrongdoing, and Opposition leader Simon Bridges questioning Curran's integrity.
"It's hard for New Zealanders, frankly, to believe a word she says," Bridges said.
The issue became political after Curran said the meeting was "unofficial" and excluded it from a list of meetings that she provided in response to a parliamentary question.
On Tuesday she said she made a mistake and should have included it from the beginning.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood by Curran, saying she had corrected the record - though it had taken two and a half months and she should have done it sooner.
Curran remains in the spotlight for what was said in the meeting and whether it could be seen as an attempt to influence the editorial direction of the state broadcaster.
Curran called it a "high-level discussion" about the state of the media and Radio NZ's future, and a spokeswoman last night insisted that "the minister was not trying to push RNZ in any direction".
Ardern also said that Curran had assured her that there was nothing inappropriate in her discussion with Hirschfeld.
Curran described the conversations she has had with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over the issue as "supportive" and also defended her decision not to set the record straight publicly after she found out on March 1, after a select committee meeting with RNZ bosses, that Hirschfeld was calling it a chance encounter.
She said her office contacted RNZ immediately to correct Hirschfeld.
"It then became a matter for RNZ to deal with."
RNZ bosses questioned Hirschfeld about the matter again, who reassured them it was a chance meeting.
Curran said her office again contacted RNZ this week to say it was an arranged meeting and on Sunday, Hirschfeld admitted the meeting was planned, leading to her resignation yesterday.
Curran said she may have been naive to hold the meeting, and would not have held it if she had known about RNZ protocols about meetings.
"Ministers are free to meet with whom they like. This is a democracy."
Asked why Hirschfeld persisted in describing it as a chance meeting, Curran said: "You'd have to ask her."
She rejected the suggestion that she had tried to cover up the meeting.
"There is no cover up. I've been really, really open about what happened, how it happened. I've just released the texts. That shows openness and transparency.
"It was just breakfast, literally, breakfast and a chat. But ultimately, ministers have meetings all the time, informal as well as formal."
She was "really sad" that Hirschfeld had resigned.
"It's a huge shame for the media industry that such a highly respected, long-serving member of the media sector has resigned."
On Tuesday Hirschfeld went to ground but Griffin and RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson said they were "very disappointed".
Based on what Hirschfeld had told them, Griffin and Thompson inadvertently misled a parliamentary select committee on March 1, telling MPs that Hirschfeld had been at the gym when she chanced upon Curran.
RNZ reported this morning that Griffin would be making a statement to the select committee as the last one he provided was based on incorrect information from Hirschfeld.
However, he said he had not been called to appear before the select committee again but would if asked.
Committee chairman National MP Jonathan Young was quoted as saying that was appropriate but he needed to discuss the matter with the rest of the committee before deciding how to proceed.
The Herald visited Hirschfeld at her Grey Lynn house this morning. She was visibly emotional but declined to comment.