Staff from three government departments who worked with MP Maggie Barry raised concerns about her behaviour during her time as a minister - and at least one also complained to the head of the public service.

Confirmation of the complaints from government staff about Barry's conduct follow bullying allegations made by her electorate staff last year.

The Weekend Herald revealed in December the North Shore representative and former garden show host was twice investigated during 2018 for alleged bullying.

Allegations made by a staffer to Parliamentary Service said Barry regularly swore and yelled at employees, belittled their intelligence and appearance, discussed staffers' sexuality in the workplace, and used derogatory terms like "nutter" about people with mental health issues.


He claimed Barry also expected staff to do political work on taxpayer time, which would be unlawful.

Barry denied all the allegations and said the Parliamentary Service had made no findings of bullying or harassment.

However, the staffer at the centre of the claims said the service did not properly investigate his allegations, and laid a complaint with the Auditor General.

Last week, the Auditor General asked the Parliamentary Service to re-investigate the claims of unlawful political work.

This week, the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Culture and Heritage - all which had workers seconded to Barry's Parliamentary office - confirmed to the Weekend Herald they also had staff raise concerns about Barry's conduct.

Additionally, the State Services Commission (SSC) revealed concerns were raised with its office in respect of Barry during her time as a minister, too.

Barry was the minister for Conservation, Culture and Heritage and Senior Citizens during the National Government's last term from 2014-2017.

Details of all the complaints will be kept secret, however, despite requests they be made available under the Official Information Act as part of the Weekend Herald's investigation into the alleged bullying.


Reasons for the secrecy varied. One department said it had no record of the conversations to provide, another cited privacy, while a third said it couldn't comment while a Parliamentary review of bullying at the Beehive was underway.

The SSC said it couldn't reveal details because it wanted to maintain the sharing of confidential information among officials, and their ability to use "free and frank" expression.

In a statement released yesterday, a spokesperson for Barry said she was never made aware of any formal complaints against her by any government department staff seconded to her Beehive office.

"In the three years she was a Minister, concerns may have been raised and discussed but they did not progress to any formal complaints process," the statement said.

"No one chose to pursue any concerns and there were no formal complaints which is why Maggie Barry not made aware of them."

The spokesperson said Barry had had many loyal and long-serving staff members including one who was with her for six years in her electorate office, and she had the same executive assistant in Parliament and the Beehive for six years.

The statement said Barry was involved in two employment matters last year. Both were settled confidentially after investigation, it said.