What is it about coffee shops and political explosions?

Remember all the kerfuffle over the teapot tape left running when the two Johns, Key and Banks, staged a publicity stunt over National coming to an arrangement for Act in Epsom two weeks before the election campaign in 2011.

It derailed the campaign with Key ordering a search on media offices to find out what was on the tape.

As it turned out there was nothing, even though Winston Peters and co said it was damning.


What a pity there wasn't a tape left running on the table where Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran had the clandestine meeting with the former Radio New Zealand head of content Carol Hirschfeld.

She lied to her bosses for four months about the meeting, claiming it happened by chance when she dropped into a prominent Wellington coffee shop on her way back from the gym.

That certainly was the appearance she wanted to create, turning up in her gym gear. But it was pure theatre, the meeting had been sought by Curran.

A storm in a coffee cup?

Well that's certainly what some would say, and without knowing what the pair met for, and what was said at the meeting, it makes drawing a conclusion difficult.

But here's a company that looks set to get the lion's share of $38 million of taxpayers' money to set up a television channel - and the minister seeks a meeting with the most experienced middle manager on television at the state broadcaster.

They were hardly talking about pilates.

Curran's boss Jacinda Ardern's backing her minister, essentially saying everyone makes mistakes but acknowledging she should have been more transparent.


A bit of an irony for the associate Minister for Open Government!

Ardern used the ministerial behaviour bible to reinforce her support for her sheepish minister, the Cabinet Manual, that sets out the line that must be toed when interacting with the bureaucracy.

There's one clause in the manual that could make the Prime Minister's claim that the rules weren't breached highly debatable.

It says "if an employee wishes to communicate privately with a Minister about a matter concerning the agency by which he or she is employed, the Minister should ensure that the employee has first raised the matter with the agency's chief executive."

The fact that the minister sought the meeting - without first informing the RNZ boss - just makes matters worse.