Housing officials tried to hide a National MP's attempt to use a Government housing roadshow to raise her own public profile, documents show.

The Labour Party said National list MP Parmjeet Parmar was guilty of trying to use taxpayer money for political campaigning, and officials had been caught red-handed trying to cover it up.

Documents released to Labour MP Kris Faafoi revealed Dr Parmar wanted to co-host a meeting for the Government's HomeStart programme near Mt Roskill, where a by-election will be triggered when current MP Phil Goff runs for the Auckland Mayoralty.

"Parmjeet Parmar has ... expressed a keen interest in hosting a roadshow as she is keen to raise local profile in Mt Roskill in case of a by-election," an email from Housing Minister Nick Smith's private secretary said.


Dr Parmar wanted to support the event with billboards and letters, the email said.
Officials said a roadshow meeting in Onehunga would be a good location because it was close to the boundary with Mt Roskill.

Mr Faafoi said it was "black and white proof" that National was using Ministry and departmental funds for political purposes.

There was also a further twist. The key passages which revealed that Dr Parmar wanted to use the roadshow for campaigning were redacted by housing officials in three other versions of the email released to Labour.

The passages were redacted by officials on the grounds that they were "out of scope" and to preserve "the free and frank expression of opinions by or between or to Ministers of the Crown", their employees, or departments.

Mr Faafoi said National had been caught out trying to hide "a dodgy bit of campaigning".

"The facts are clear," he said. "National has been caught red-handed hiding the truth, and it has been spending taxpayers' money to campaign."

The roadshow went ahead on June 11 in Onehunga, at a cost of $460 for hiring the venue. It was one of at least 20 roadshow meetings held around the country to promote the Government's HomeStart subsidy.

Dr Parmar, a former Families Commissioner, ran in the Mt Roskill electorate at the 2014 election. She placed second to Mr Goff, who had a 8000-vote majority.


In response to Herald questions, Ms Parmar said in an email that as a list MP based in Mt Roskill, she felt it was important to hold a HomeStart meeting in her area.

Despite the email by Dr Smith's private secretary, she said that she did not attend the meeting with the intention of raising her profile.

Dr Parmar said the minister had asked all MPs whether they were interested in holding a HomeStart meeting in their region.