Outgoing MP Clare Curran says an image of a National MP posed with a toilet emblazoned with her face on it left her feeling "traumatised" and suffering from "humiliation".

Curran announced last year she would not re-stand at this year's election, closing a 12-year career in Parliament.

It came a year after she was removed from Cabinet and stripped of her open government portfolios after not disclosing a meeting with tech entrepreneur Derek Handley, set up using her personal email account.

It was her second strike, after a similar omission in relation to a meeting with former Radio NZ boss Carol Hirschfeld earlier in 2018.


The outgoing Labour MP has revealed the alleged dirty politics she said was targeted with, and the toll it took emotionally as her political career came tumbling down, in an interview published today on The Spinoff.

The worst of it was in 2012, when she was sent photos from the National Party's Mainland Region conference, one showing fellow Dunedin-based MP, National's Michael Woodhouse, posed with a blue toilet seat with her face emblazoned on it.

The seat was reportedly used as a trophy for a debating competition.

"I was so shocked when I saw it. I have never been able to speak of it publicly because I felt embarrassed. I still feel quite traumatised by it," she told The Spinoff.

"They were literally encouraging people to piss on me."

Curran did not want to comment to the Herald.

Woodhouse said: "To be honest I cannot really remember it, and I don't think an eight-year-old photo is a burning issue of the day," he said.

Curran's political issues began shortly after the September 2017 election.


From early November, the-then Broadcasting Minister began texting state-owned RNZ's head of content Carol Hirschfeld to arrange a meeting.

That meeting took place at Wellington's Astoria Cafe in early December but Curran failed to disclose it in response to written questions from National's Melissa Lee.

Hirschfeld lost her job after repeatedly telling her RNZ bosses, for unknown reasons, that it was a coincidental meeting.

At the time, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood by Curran, saying she had corrected the record, though it had taken two and a half months and she should have done it sooner.

Curran also used her personal Gmail account to arrange a meeting with entrepreneur Derek Handley about the new government chief technology role that was going.

The meeting with Handley, on February 27, 2018, was not diaried and Curran's own staff did not know about it.


She again omitted to mention the meeting in answer to written questions, saying she simply forgot about it.

She then gave a nightmare performance while answering questions in Parliament about the emails and meetings from Lee, stumbling through her responses and obviously under pressure.

"I was trying to answer honestly and I couldn't come up with the words and my mind went blank," she told The Spinoff of the impact of that moment.

Curran resigned two days later.

Lee told the Herald she felt for Curran, but denied there was a targeted National campaign against her.

"I know she has talked about some of this before, it can be difficult in Parliament, there are issues related to being a woman, and me personally as an ethnic minority.


"I do feel for her, what she had to go through with mental health issues, and I am glad she got help.

"But she still can't skirt around the fact this all happened as result of her incompetence, being a senior Cabinet minister, responsible for openness and transparency, and she herself could not set an example.

"There was no campaign against her, I was asking the questions, as is my duty as an opposition MP."

Lee said she had been unaware of the toilet seat photo, and it would be "inappropriate" for her to comment, referring the Herald to Woodhouse.

*An original version of this story contained errors. We apologise to Clare Curran for those.