Michelle Boag has admitted being involved in the leaking of Covid-19 patient data. The former National Party president is no stranger to controversy. Here are a few highlights.

The Covid debacle

Barely two months ago Michelle Boag was part of RNZ's panel discussing the pandemic response to Covid-19. It was a truly show-stopping moment when she gave listeners her informed opinion on coronavirus.

"We're acting as if this has never happened before. We've got to remember, this is Covid-19! Presumably there's been 18 other coronaviruses, on the way to get to 19!"
April 2020

Racial stoush

In her capacity as spokeswoman for Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch, Boag hit the headlines when she described a woman as "barely coffee coloured".


It started with Leitch "joking" with a group about not drinking too much and included a remark that Waiheke was "a white man's island". The "banter" included telling Lara Bridger, who identified as tangata whenua, she shouldn't be there. He later apologised, saying it was light-hearted banter that was misinterpreted.

Boag didn't help matters when she told Maori TV his comments could not be racially targeted because Bridger was "barely coffee-coloured".

She later claimed her "flippant" comment had been taken out of context.

Bridger had claimed Leitch approached her because she was "black".

"I said 'that was ridiculous she was barely coffee coloured'."
Jan 2017

Helicopter taxi

This time, wearing her hat as chairwoman of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Foundation, the Waiheke resident didn't think twice about calling the rescue helicopter to fetch her passport when she discovered she had mistakenly left it at home.

As she approached Auckland Airport with just a few hours to spare before her flight to Australia she made a call at 5.30am for the team to do her a favour.

The chopper, with the mandatory crew of three including a paramedic, flew from Mechanics Bay to Waiheke and then out to the helipad near the international terminal to deliver the passport to her. It then returned to Mechanics Bay.

Former National Party president and public relations maven Michelle Boag. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Former National Party president and public relations maven Michelle Boag. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"I was in a hole and they managed to help me out and I was happy to pay the price for that," she told the Herald "That was my silly mistake and I won't do it again."

The total cost of the flight was $4000.
Feb 2006

Bogus film crew

Then there is the instance during the infamous winebox inquiry when she misled the Davison Commission over the secret filming of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters at the tax-dodging inquiry.

A TVNZ board member and PR consultant for Fay, Richwhite, Boag brought in a non-accredited television crew to be present at the inquiry. When asked why, she claimed she was not trying to deceive the inquiry commissioner. Rather, her clients Fay, Richwhite had just wanted a filmed record of court proceedings.

"Every time Winston Peters said something, we didn't know what he was going to say next - and we were intensely interested in what he was saying," she said at the time.

This was roundly criticised by Peters who claimed the illegal surveillance camera was there to film a particular witness whose evidence would later that night be analysed by a legal team and a psychologist so that they might have an edge over that witness the next day.

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