Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged that Labour is "not a perfect organisation" at the opening of the party's annual conference in Whanganui.

Although Ardern did not explicitly make reference to the sexual assault allegations scandals within Labour, it's likely that's what she was referring to.

"We are not a perfect organisation. This year we have all been on a journey," she told the roughly 300-400 attendees gathered.

"We have learned some incredibly important lessons and through all of that, I know something that we must work harder at is making sure our place is one that is safe and positive for every single member to participate in."

Advertisement

Earlier this week, the 21-year old man who was on trial over multiple allegations of sexual assault at a Labour summer was discharged without conviction.

He was accused of having grabbed and squeezed a man's testicles, touched another man's genitals twice, kissed a woman on her neck and face and groped a second woman's breast and bottom at the summer camp last year.

In September, then-president Nigel Haworth resigned his role following his handling of a separate case of sexual assault allegations.

Labour's top brass (Phil Twyford, Chris Hipkins, Grant Robertson, Iain Lees-Galloway, Carmel Sepuloni and Megan Woods) at Labour's annual conference. Photo / Jason Walls
Labour's top brass (Phil Twyford, Chris Hipkins, Grant Robertson, Iain Lees-Galloway, Carmel Sepuloni and Megan Woods) at Labour's annual conference. Photo / Jason Walls

That case involved reports of an alleged sexual attack on a 19-year-old Labour volunteer by one of the party's staff.

The party investigated seven formal complaints about the male staffer - employed by the Parliamentary Service - but concluded no disciplinary action was warranted in July.

The complainants went to the media and, after pressure, an investigation into the process of the previous investigation was launched.

The outcome of that will not be known until next month.

During her opening speech, Ardern said it was important that people were able to raise issues and concerns within the party.

Advertisement

"I also know that we should never be afraid to address problems we may face."

Although she said Labour may be a political organisation – "that should not be the lenses in which we view issues that involve our Labour members".

"People first," she said. "Politics second".

She said Labour knows it has work to do, but said "we are doing it".

"We have new skills to learn and we're learning them, including right here at this conference."

MP Poto Williams is heading up a "first principles" look at the culture of the party as a whole – she is speaking to members about this at the conference this weekend.

She asked members to "keep prioritising people, kindness and compassion".

"That we support one and other, especially those who do raise issues and concerns."