Emails exchanged between former minister Clare Curran and millionaire entrepreneur Derek Handley over the Government's chief technology role via her private email account remain a mystery, despite attempts by Parliament's Speaker to shed light on them.
Speaker Trevor Mallard yesterday directed State Services Minister Chris Hipkins to bring with him to the debating chamber today all previously undisclosed emails from Curran's private Gmail account to and from Handley on the CTO role in order to satisfy questions from National's Nick Smith.
Today Finance Minister Grant Robertson, standing in for Hipkins who has gone on parental leave, read out the dates and a description of the content of the emails.
Curran has handed over her emails to Archives New Zealand, which has in turn told Mallard that the Public Records Act overrides the Official Information Act and Curran retains ownership and control of them.
Robertson said he had been assured Curran would release them under the Official Information Act.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told Parliament that in addition to a text message, she also received an unsolicited email to her private account from Handley on June 7 but did not open it or reply to it.
Her staff had told her it had informed her that he had applied for the CTO role.
Ardern yesterday said she had received a text message from Handley about the CTO role but said she never spoke to him.
She did not directly engage with him because it would have been inappropriate.
Today she said it was received in April.
"My recollection is that he mentioned the CTO role, that it had been mentioned to him."
Asked whether there were any other text messages, Ardern said: "I did not directly reply to that text message on that day or engage with him on the CTO role. On the CTO role I did not engage with Mr Handley via text message."
Ardern said she would release her exchanges through the Official Information Act.
Handley has been paid out $107,000 after being offered the role in mid-August, then had his contract terminated when the Government put a halt to the process.
Handley, who moved his family from New York back to New Zealand, is donating the money to the tech sector.
New Government Digital Services Minister Megan Woods said last week that the recruitment process was stopped while her officials reviewed the role.
Curran was removed from Cabinet by Ardern over her failure to record and disclose a meeting she held with Handley over the role in February.
• August 11 – Handley emailed Curran and asked questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest.
• August 14 – Curran replied, confirming a call to discuss those matters.
• August 15 – Handley replied, confirming times for the call.
• August 19 – Curran emailed Handley regarding logistics about the next step of the appointment, including content of any public statement and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs.
• August 20 – Handley replied, about those issues including his contact with DIA and managing any conflicts of interest.
• August 21 – Curran emailed Handley about any issues that would be on the work plan of the CTO and attached relevant background documents.
• August 21 – Handley emailed Curran, acknowledging receipt and referring to his discussions with DIA.