A resident along the Wellington street where Kiri Allan crashed her car has described seeing the now former Cabinet minister in the vehicle perpendicular to the road.
Allan, who had been drinking, was charged with careless use of a motor vehicle and refusing to accompany a police officer following a crash on Evans Bay Parade in Roseneath last night shortly after 9pm. She has resigned from her ministerial portfolios and will now be taking time to consider her future in politics.
One resident who lives near the scene of the crash said he peered out the window after he heard a bang.
“It was a good thump. I mean, it pushed the ute forward about three metres.
“The car was perpendicular to the road, and kind of blocked one lane, and it was kind of over the centre line from the other side, so it was a bit of a traffic hazard.”
Describing the weather, he said the “night was awful”.
“It was wet, pitch dark like it is now, but wet and misty, so you couldn’t really see a lot.”
He said he walked out to the front of his property and noticed other neighbours were already on the scene.
“She was in the car at the time when I had a look but there were people around sort of talking to her ... there was about half a dozen people around there.
“Then all of a sudden there were lots of cop cars.”
The day has been a bit surreal, he said.
“The main thing is that she’s looked after, obviously she wasn’t in the best state of mind.”
Another resident said there have been several similar crashes on the winding coastal road.
A photo taken in the aftermath shows Allan’s vehicle on an angle, in the middle of the road, with the headlights pointing in the direction of the ute she had just crashed into.
The ute had damage to a rear right panel and a flattened tyre.
An infringement notice was also issued because Allan had excess breath alcohol between 250-400 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath. Allan will appear in court at a later date.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins found out about the crash when he received a phone call from his chief of staff about 10pm yesterday. He then had a call from Police Minister Ginny Andersen.
Asked by media today if he knew if Allan left the scene of the crash without police, Hipkins said he “couldn’t say for certain what happened last night”.
Allan had been receiving counselling and professional support when she returned to work.
“Ultimately, mental health is incredibly challenging,” Hipkins said.
Hipkins assigned Allan’s portfolios to Andersen, who became the new Justice Minister, while Kieran McAnulty will become the Regional Development Minister.
The PM referenced how Allan had recently taken time off and that she was “at the top of her game” at Parliament last week. However, he said things could flip without warning when mental health was involved.
Hipkins had spoken to Allan before 7am today, discussing how her position as a minister was untenable.
“It was a difficult conversation ... she’s not in a good space,” Hipkins said of Allan. “I’m gutted for Kiri, I’m concerned for her wellbeing.”
Allan, in a statement, said she was heading home to the East Coast and accepted her position as a minister was untenable.
“Over recent weeks I’ve faced a number of personal difficulties. I took time off to address those, and believed I was okay to juggle those challenges with the pressure of being a minister.
“My actions yesterday show I wasn’t okay, and I’ve let myself and my colleagues down,” Allan said.
Allan returned to her full ministerial duties on Monday last week after taking some time away from Parliament due in part to a relationship break-up.
While she was taking a few days of mental health leave, separate allegations were reported regarding her treatment of staff, which she strongly denied.
She then took a further two weeks off over Parliament’s recess.
Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist.