Former immigration boss Mary Anne Thompson says she hopes to work in the public service again, despite the State Services Commissioner criticising her conduct in helping relatives to gain entry to New Zealand as "wholly inappropriate".
Ms Thompson resigned in May after a series of controversies, including claims her CV contained qualifications she did not hold and revelations over help she gave relatives from Kiribati to enter New Zealand in 2004 and 2005.
Yesterday, the State Services Commission released its report, finding Ms Thompson helped Kiribati relatives with immigration issues on six different occasions, without disclosing it to her boss, former Labour Department chief executive James Buwalda.
Commissioner Iain Rennie said Ms Thompson's behaviour as a senior public servant was "surprising" and "wholly inappropriate".
Although she had advised senior managers she intended to help her family members, she had not told her boss when she actually did so and "consistently breached" the requirements of public servants to manage conflicts of interest.
He said that although there was no evidence her family members had sought preferential treatment, it was clear her involvement had given them benefits others did not have.
Ms Thompson said she accepted that her actions were "unwise" and she would approach the situation differently.
However, she said she had openly discussed her intention to sponsor her relatives before doing so with Mr Buwalda and other senior managers. It would have been dishonest not to sign the form saying she had assisted.
"At the time I never imagined my signature would have been taken as anything other than confirmation of my assistance."
She said she had been "a loyal member of the public service for 20 years". "My hope is that when all this is sorted, I will be able to return."
Mr Rennie was also critical of Mr Buwalda, saying he treated Ms Thompson's involvement too leniently, leaving her with the impression it was not a major issue.
Mr Buwalda said he accepted the findings and regretted he had not dealt with the issue differently. "My trust in Ms Thompson and the assurances she provided to me were misplaced. I got it wrong, and I regret I did not deal more effectively and formally with Ms Thompson."
It is the first of four inquiries under way into Ms Thompson's actions and the department's handling of them.
The Auditor-General is also investigating, and the police are looking at allegations Ms Thompson had listed a PhD on her CV when applying for previous jobs in the public service.
National MP Lockwood Smith said the report raised wider concerns about the Immigration Service, which had a "catalogue of failures," including the "lying in unison" scandal [relating to Ahmed Zaoui's presence in New Zealand] and the Taito Phillip Field affair.
Both Mr Rennie and Prime Minister Helen Clark said they were confident the department's current chief executive, Chris Blake, was taking action to prevent such a situation recurring.