New Zealand workplaces have a bullying problem and Parliament is no exception, says Green MP Jan Logie.

She said there were lessons to learn from the Meka Whaitiri case – the minister who was sacked last week after a report into an incident with a staffer suggested the MP had grabbed her arm hard enough to leave a bruise on it.

"We know that as a country we have got an issue with workplace bullying," Logie said at Parliament today.

"It is pretty well acknowledged, and Parliament is clearly no exception to that.


"There are lots of things we can learn from this ... one of them is about making sure that if someone has got concerns in their workplace they know who to raise them with and there can be interventions to be able to make sure a manager is doing their job as well as they can and that they are treating their staff with respect.

"Another thing I think we can all learn from this is that we learn how to hold people to account and help them to change behaviour and we are consistent in the way that we do that."

Logie, who is the Green Party's workplace spokeswoman, would not express a view on whether Whaitiri should remain as an MP.

That was a matter for Labour and for Whaitiri's electorate, Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

But National deputy leader Paula Bennett doubted there was a way for Whaitiri.

"I struggle to see it myself," she said. "I think the behaviour we have seen come out in this report really leads us to questioning whether or not she would be someone that is really fit to hold a position like that."

She said that Whaitiri's future required a blunt discussion between her and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"It seems to me she is setting a very low bar and a low standard and I think the country deserves better."


Bennett was also highly critical of the Labour Māori caucus for their expressions of support in Whaitiri.

"Protecting their own and standing by colleague can be admirable but I think one has to look at it and there is another individual involved in this and from what I've read it looks pretty traumatic for her."

Green MP Jan Logie says workplaces should help people to change their behaviour.
Green MP Jan Logie says workplaces should help people to change their behaviour.

Bennett did not believe that Whaitiri should remain co-chair of the Māori caucus.

"I find it staggering that the Māori caucus who are big in number and strong are seeing someone like that being in a leadership position with what we know."

Speaking from New York, Ardern said she was disappointed the report had been leaked, that Internal Affairs were conducting an inquiry into the leak, and a redacted version of the report was still being prepared for public release.

She gave no suggestion that her view on Whaitiri's future had changed since sacking her last week when she said she had encourage the MP to improve herself and her relationships.

Māori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson said Whaitiri still had the support of the Māori caucus.

Nothing has changed in the Māori caucus support for Meka Whaitiri says co-chair Willie Jackson. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Nothing has changed in the Māori caucus support for Meka Whaitiri says co-chair Willie Jackson. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"The Prime Minister spoke today and the Prime Minister's words are very important and we support what she is saying. She supports Meka still and so does the Māori caucus."

Asked if she would stay on as co-chair of the Māori caucus, Jackson said: "That's obvious. Nothing has changed."

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters told Parliament that Whaitiri had been a "stand-out woman" in the past and contributed enormously to Ngati Porou and Māoridom.

Peters also twice introduced an element of doubt into whether Whaitiri really did grab a staff member's arm hard enough to leave bruises on her upper arm - in answer to questions from Bennett.

"Just because there may have or may not have been a lapse is no reason for that member to repose on me the responsibility of being able to judge the worth or value of women," Peters said.

Peters also said the delay in releasing the report into the incident was "to protect the so-called or alleged victim."

There has been no response from Whaitiri to requests to comment.