Government needs to appoint new head of inquiry after Dr Pauline Kingi stands down.

The inquiry into Wally Haumaha's appointment as deputy commissioner was thrown into turmoil with the shock resignation of its chair as more links between Dr Pauline Kingi and the police emerged.

Kingi, a well-respected public servant, was appointed last week as the chair of the $150,000 inquiry to "examine, identify and report on the adequacy of the process".

She was appointed more than three weeks after the Herald revealed comments made by Haumaha during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.

Dr Pauline Kingi has resigned as the chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as deputy police commissioner. Photo / NZ Herald.
Dr Pauline Kingi has resigned as the chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as deputy police commissioner. Photo / NZ Herald.

But the focus has been on Kingi after the Herald revealed she had endorsed Haumaha's skills and experience on the professional networking website LinkedIn 23 times.

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She could not remember doing this, said Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, and she stood by Kingi as there was no conflict of interest.

"At that time it was common practice for Maori professionals to support each other through this new medium through endorsements."

Dr Pauline Kingi endorsed Wally Haumaha on LinkedIn 23 times. Photo / Supplied.
Dr Pauline Kingi endorsed Wally Haumaha on LinkedIn 23 times. Photo / Supplied.

Just 24 hours later, Martin announced in Parliament that Kingi had resigned.

"Ever since she was appointed to the role, she has been the subject of political attack. Those have been attacks on her integrity, attacks on her reputation and even attacks on her legal qualification.

"Dr Kingi has a 28 year career in public service. She was asked to perform a public duty yet became the subject of an undue and unwarranted criticism. The government has accepted her resignation and will commence the process to find a replacement."

The resignation came after the Herald asked Martin's office whether Kingi had ever been part of the Maori Advisory Board for the Counties Manukau police district when Mike Bush, the Police Commissioner, was the district commander there between 2008 and 2011.

The question was not answered directly.

But in a statement released by the Department of Internal Affairs, Kingi confirmed she was on the advisory boards for the Auckland and Counties Manukau police districts as a representative of Te Puni Kokiri.

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"I am very proud of the work undertaken to encourage one of the largest government agencies to have a positive Māori responsiveness," said Kingi.

"The culture of change that has occurred in the New Zealand Police force is something I am particularly proud of."

In 2010, Kingi appeared in a police newsletter about iwi leaders working closely with police across the three Auckland districts.

At the time, Kingi was the Auckland regional director for Te Puni Kokiri and appeared in a photograph accompanying the story.

Haumaha, then ranked a Superintendent, was the national manager of Maori Pacific Ethnic Services in the police.

While not photographed alongside Kingi, Haumaha was the only person quoted in the newsletter story.

A spokesman for Martin's office confirmed the Department of Internal Affairs did not ask Kingi about her work on the Counties Manukau advisory board.

National MP Chris Bishop said Kingi's integrity is not the issue, but the Government must "go back to the drawing board" and appoint a truly independent person to chair the inquiry.

"If it had done its due diligence properly, it would have been clear that Kingi had an unequivocal conflict of interest and was not the right person to lead this particular inquiry.

"Let's not forget what this inquiry is looking into – Mr Haumaha made highly questionable statements about serious allegations made against his friends in the Police, which were apparently not known to Ministers before they signed off on his appointment."

The inquiry was announced after the Herald revealed Haumaha described police colleagues Brad Shipton as a "big softie" and Brad Schollum as a "legend" with women in formal statements to the formal Operation Austin team.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush was on the State Services Commission panel which recommended Haumaha as one of two candidates for the deputy commissioner role.

Police Minister Stuart Nash put Haumaha's name forward to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who in turn recommended the Governor-General appoint him to the statutory role.

Nash said he was unaware at the time of the "deeply disappointing" comments made by Haumaha.