Every journalist has sources.
Some are in politics; they feed you morsels to further their own agendas. Some are in the civil service; they leak bad decisions to stop more bad decisions. Some are in the private sector; they're usually motivated by money.
It's rare to find a source prepared to talk just because it's the right thing to do. They're usually terrified.
I met mine on a grey Wellington weekday, waiting in the shadow of a hotel. I pulled up in a grey hatchback, with the car's big company logos covered up.
We had talked on the phone. We had exchanged emails. But I was never allowed to know their real name. Even the emails were sent to me under a pseudonym.
We met for the first time in that car. We drove to my work. We used the back stairs. My producer was waiting for us in a private room.
When we began talking my leak's hands were shaking. If anyone discovered who was squealing to us, the whistleblower would lose their livelihood. That's the risk these people take to stop actions they think are wrong.
Sources, leaks, squealers, tattletales, narks, rats, whistleblowers. Call them what you like. They're braver than most of us. They have mettle and backbone when we have mortgages and excuses.
That's why there was no option for the Auditor-General but to stand down, pending an inquiry into his suitability for the job.
Before his appointment as the AG, Martin Matthews was the boss of the Ministry of Transport.
He was the boss when convicted fraudster Joanne Harrison swindled the ministry of more than $700,000. He was the boss when three people blew the whistle on her. He was the boss who shut down the subsequent investigation into her.
And he was the boss when the three whistleblowers lost their jobs.
That's utterly unacceptable treatment of people raising red flags.
In fact, under the law their jobs are protected. They're not the baddies. They're trying to root out the baddies.
At the very least, they deserve compensation.
If anyone discovered who was squealing to us, the whistleblower would lose their livelihood.
Martin Matthews may not be directly responsible for the way the three staff were treated, but his standing down sends a clear message to would-be whistleblowers that society more than tolerates their actions, we welcome them.
It probably doesn't suit the Government that this may actually encourage further leaking. It wouldn't suit any government.
Leaks reveal mistakes, incompetence and deceit. Those things exist in any government.
And our whistleblowers need encouragement. Who would speak after the 2012 courage-breaking 18-month-long Government-ordered witch hunt to find a Ministry of Foreign Affairs leaker?
There are now anecdotes out of Wellington of public servants disheartened by decisions and actions they know are wrong, but who are too scared of losing their jobs to say anything.
We should be grateful to people brave enough to risk their jobs to point out dodgy stuff. If the Transport Ministry superiors had listened to the three whistleblowers, Harrison might have been uncovered a lot sooner and we might have lost a lot less taxpayer money.
Without leaks we wouldn't know that Murray McCully spent millions of our hard-earned cash on buying a rich Saudi businessman some flash farming gear.
We wouldn't know Lance Armstrong was an epic fraud. We wouldn't know the awful torture American soldiers were inflicting on Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib.
We wouldn't know how corrupt Richard Nixon really was.
By the way, despite the film-noir cloak and dagger carry on, I discovered my whistleblower's name that day.
The bag carrying the incriminating documents fell open, the name was written in big black marker pen.
I never told the whistleblower I knew. I have never told anyone else either.