Police Commissioner Mike Bush knew Louise Nicholas had raised concerns about Wally Haumaha in the past - but did not raise the issue during the appointment process for the deputy commissioner role as he thought it had been resolved.

That decision was reasonable in the opinion of Mary Scholtens QC, whose report released today cleared the appointment process of any fault.

While Nicholas' concerns about comments attributed to Haumaha were understandable, wrote Scholtens, there was no evidence unearthed in Operation Austin to say Haumaha had done anything wrong.

Haumaha denied saying police should "stick together" when Nicholas first accused a trio of police officers of raping her, and doubted he would have described her allegations as "nonsense".

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While Nicholas' concerns had been raised with Bush as far back as 2015, by Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement, Bush he believed they had been resolved amicably after seeing them talking in 2016.

When Haumaha was promoted to Assistant Commissioner in 2017, Nicholas did not raise any issues with Bush.

So he did not think it relevant to raise them during the appointment process for Deputy Commissioner earlier this year.

"The commissioner understood those concerns had been resolved well before DC Haumaha's appointment to Assistant Commissioner in 2017," wrote Scholtens.

"HIs understanding was that Ms Nicholas appreciated the importance and effectiveness of the work that DC Haumaha did and accepted that she did not have a role in senior police appointments.

"Had the Commissioner thought the concerns about DC Haumaha were still an issues for Ms Nicholas, he said he would have raised them with her.

"He considered them to be personal issues for Ms Nicholas, but ones that he was respectful of.

"But he would not necessarily have raised them with the appointment panel. They were not matters he considered to be relevant to the merits of the appointment."

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On this point, the State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes and his deputy Debbie Power - who were on the appointment panel with the Police Commissioner - disagreed with Bush.

"Both Mr Hughes and Ms Power thought it would have been prudent for the Commissioner to have advised the appointment panel, even if he understood Ms Nicholas' concerns had been resolved," wrote Scholtens.

"That is not to say it would derail an appointment - they would work through it properly."

Similarly, concerns raised by three women who left a joint Justice project because of alleged bullying by Haumaha were not relevant to the appointment, said Scholtens.

There was no formal complaint to police, and even if there had been, Scholtens found the likely consequence would be the concerns would have formed part of Bush's assessment of Haumaha's leadership style.

"It may or may not have been something he then chose to refer explicitly to the appointment panel. That would have been a matter for his discretion."

Mary Scholtens QC spent 11 weeks looking into the appointment process for the Deputy Commissioner role. Photo / Supplied.
Mary Scholtens QC spent 11 weeks looking into the appointment process for the Deputy Commissioner role. Photo / Supplied.

While Scholtens cleared the appointment process for the deputy commissioner role, she made a number of recommendations.

• The SSC needed to be explicit when seeking information from candidates and referees to think widely, pointing out the risk of matters seen as irrelevant "gaining some traction" if the candidate was appointed.

• The SSC ensures references are sought from a significant number and diverse mix of referees.

• The SSC approach people other than nominated referees where appropriate, to seek anonymous, confidential views from employees and other individuals who perspectives may otherwise not be heard.

• Scholtens said she understood the Commissioner is keen to undertake a review of international best practice. She recommended the review focus on identifying and managing the risks around unexpected publicity.

The inquiry led by Scholtens was announced after the Herald revealed in June controversial comments made by Haumaha during the Operation Austin investigation in 2004.

Haumaha was friends with Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and Clint Rickards from their time together in the Rotorua police station in the 1980s.

Louise Nicholas accused the trio of raping her in group sex sessions and the police opened Operation Austin to investigate the claims, while the Prime Minister Helen Clark ordered a Royal Commission of Inquiry into police culture.

Shipton, Schollum and Rickards were acquitted on charges laid from Nicholas' evidence, but the jury did not know Shipton and Schollum were already in prison for raping another woman who came forward to Operation Austin.

Haumaha was interviewed during the ground-breaking investigation and spoke highly of his friends, describing Shipton as a "softie" and Schollum as a "legend" with women.

The commission of inquiry, led by Dame Margaret Bazley, made 64 recommendations to change a police culture which was sceptical of rape complainants.

Bazley also recommended the police progress in implementing the changes be monitored for 10 years. The oversight by the Auditor-General ended this year.

Victim advocate Louise Nicholas was angered by Wally Haumaha's comments about her rape allegations. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Victim advocate Louise Nicholas was angered by Wally Haumaha's comments about her rape allegations. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

However, Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was unaware of the "deeply disappointing" comments when he gave Haumaha's name to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the deputy commissioner role.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters soon announced an inquiry into the appointment process, but not the suitability of the candidate.

The inquiry was dogged by questions over Haumaha's links to the New Zealand First party and the resignation of the first head of the inquiry, Pauline Kingi.

The inquiry was extended from six to 11 weeks when Scholtens asked for more time to consider allegations of bullying against Haumaha reported by the Herald.

Three women walked out of Police National Headquarters in June 2016 and refused to return because of Haumaha's alleged behaviour.

Scholtens considered the 2016 allegations in her inquiry, but only in terms of what information was potentially available during the recruitment process which led to Haumaha's appointment in May.

A second inquiry by the Independent Police Conduct Authority is now investigating formal complaints laid by two of the women.

The policy analysts - two from the Ministry of Justice, one from Corrections - were working on a joint project based in the Māori, Pacific, Ethnic Services division run by Haumaha, a superintendent at the time.

Alleged verbal bullying contributed to the women leaving PNHQ in June 2016, feeling "devalued and disillusioned".

How a political fiasco unfolded

• June 29: Herald reveals Wally Haumaha's statement to Operation Austin. Police Minister Stuart Nash says he was unaware of them. Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters announces inquiry into appointment process.

• July 2: Herald reveals Haumaha was once picked to be a candidate for New Zealand First.

• July 23: Herald reveals Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement warned Police Commissioner Mike Bush about Haumaha's history. Dr Pauline Kingi announced as chair of the inquiry.

• July 31: Herald reveals Dr Pauline Kingi endorsed Haumaha on LinkedIn. She steps down the next day.

• August 6: Herald reveals Winston Peters was a guest speaker at Waitetī Marae to celebrate Haumaha's promotion to Assistant Commissioner and other links to New Zealand First.

• August 9: Herald reveals three policy analysts from Justice and Corrections working on joint project leave Police National Headquarters because of alleged bullying behaviour by Haumaha.

• August 10: Mary Scholtens QC named as new inquiry head.

• August 14: Herald reveals internal police investigation into complaint Haumaha contacted a lower ranking police officer ahead of Herald story about the bullying allegations.

• August 20: Mary Scholtens to start inquiry and report back six weeks later.

• September 6: Two women make formal complaints about Haumaha's alleged behaviour, Independent Police Conduct Authority to investigate.

&bull: October 2: SSC confirms a third inquiry into how Justice and Corrections initially handled allegations of bullying in 2016 may be necessary. Scholtens asks for an extra 5 weeks for inquiry.

• November 2: Mary Scholtens completes report and gives it to Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin. In turn, she gives it to State Services Minister Chris Hipkins.

• November 12: Report released.