Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater has been accused of paying a man to hack into an opposition website for political gain.
In a statement provided to NZME. News Service, police confirmed they were investigating the claims, saying they had "received a complaint regarding an alleged attempt to procure the hacking of a computer system".
"The complaint is being investigated by Counties Manukau CIB," the statement said.
"There are a number of complexities to the investigation, including the posting online of documentation which has already compromised the investigation and is making our inquires more difficult.
"Police are taking a cautious approach, and working through a number of complex steps to gather the necessary information to advance the enquiry.
"Any decision on charges is some way off at this stage, and will be made after a thorough assessment of all relevant information."
The controversial and outspoken political commentator denies the claims, but police have reportedly confirmed they are investigating the allegations made by Ben Rachinger.
The IT consultant posted his claims on the internet earlier this year, and this morning The Nation broadcast an interview with him, detailing his claims Slater commissioned him to hack into left-wing political blog The Standard to try to uncover the identities of the authors of blogs written anonymously or under pseudonyms.
"Cameron Slater asked me, for financial benefit, to hack into The Standard website and to pull out any and all information about authors of anonymous blog posts on The Standard and also to find out email addresses and IP addresses for further hacking," Mr Rachinger told TV's The Nation.
Slater has long claimed blogs on The Standard are ghost written by Labour insiders, including staff members.
In an encrypted text sent to Mr Rachinger in January, Slater allegedly said: "I want proof of admin at The Standard ... I will destroy them."
He later allegedly said: "I want them all outed, all the MPs, [The Standard founder Lynn] Prentice, [Labour Party chief of staff Matt] McCarten ... all of them."
Mr Rachinger says Slater asked him to "focus on this job of getting into The Standard", and said he had $5000 available to pay him to do so. But Slater would not name his backer, who was funding the hacking request.
Mr Rachinger says he became Slater's confidant after the IT consultant got in touch with the blogger after a cyber attack on his WhaleOil site. Hacked emails stolen during the security breach were later used to form the information for journalist Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book, which was released before last year's election.
Mr Rachinger said he offered to strengthen the security on Slater's website, and they continued to stay in touch.
Slater wanted to get back at those who had criticised him in the fall-out from Dirty Politics, Mr Rachinger said. Initially he wanted Mr Rachinger to out 'Rawshark', the hacker who claimed responsibility for the attack on WhaleOil. But then focussed on targeting The Standard.
"His plan was to use this information to hit back at the Labour Party, and specifically [Labour leader] Andrew Little, on the first day of Parliament, in order to dampen the affects of Dirty Politics the year before," Mr Rachinger said.
Bank records showed Mr Rachinger received numerous payments from Slater's company Social Media Co, totalling $9100 over a period of three months.
In the emails and text messages seen by The Nation, Mr Rachinger claimed to be "in" The Standard's system and getting the information, but Mr Rachinger told the programme that he never actually hacked the website, and was simply bluffing Slater.
"I did not have that information at that stage, that information was a bluff. Any information I provided to him was publicly accessible from Google or just looking through websites on the surface," he said.
Mr Rachinger said he was attempting to carry out "an ad hoc investigation of my own".
"I believed I would be able to get the evidence that I thought I required to shine sunlight on Mr Slater and his funder's activities."
Their relationship turned sour when Slater realised he'd paid Mr Rachinger and received little in return, the show claimed.
In text messages Slater allegedly sent to Mr Rachinger, he said he has "nothing after $4k", claiming Mr Rachinger has defrauded him, and claiming he was "angry as f***".
In one message he allegedly said: "It's no small thing I'm doing this, I could be being set up in a sting by a media person or cops."
The Nation said police had confirmed that detectives at the Counties Manukau CIB were investigating an allegation that Slater offered money in a bid to procure the hacking of a computer system.
Police said it was a complex investigation and they're still gathering all the necessary information, the programme said. Any decision on charges would be some way off.
Slater declined to be interviewed or provide a statement to The Nation, but "unequivocally denied" the claims, the show said.
He told the programme Mr Rachinger approached him with the information, offering it up for a price.
In an audio clip from a phonecall to Slater, he said he was "sick to death of people trying to set me up".
"I don't break the law, that's the end of the story."