Conflicting accounts of bullying allegations between Justice, Police and Corrections. Now one of the women plans to make a formal complaint.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is "hugely frustrated" information which should have been considered before Wally Haumaha was promoted to deputy police commissioner is being "drip fed" after the appointment was made.

Her comments came after an ongoing Herald investigation into the promotion today revealed three women working on a joint project walked out of Police National Headquarters because of Haumaha's alleged bullying towards them.

The policy analysts - two from the Justice Ministry, one from Corrections - were based at PNHQ in Wellington working in the Māori, Pacific, Ethnic Services division run by Haumaha, a superintendent at the time.

They were excited to be working on the cross-sector project, which started in October 2015, to improve "justice outcomes" for Māori, who are over-represented in arrest statistics and the prison population.

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A number of alleged verbal bullying incidents, including a particularly heated exchange in which one of Haumaha's senior staff intervened, contributed to the three women leaving PNHQ in June 2016 feeling "devalued and disillusioned".

The three women told their managers, did not return to PNHQ, and continued working on the project from the Justice Ministry offices.

Haumaha did not respond to a request for comment.

The investigation dominated Question Time in Parliament yesterday where two senior ministers, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins, said the inquiry into Haumaha's appointment would be wide enough to consider the bullying allegations.

Robertson also said questions would be asked of the chief executives of the Justice Ministry and Corrections, Andrew Bridgman and Ray Smith respectively, about how the bullying allegations were handled.

The inquiry into Haumaha's appointment was announced the day the Herald revealed comments he made during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.

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He described his friends Brad Shipton as a "softie" and Bob Schollum as a "legend" with women, while one officer told the 2004 investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha described Nicholas' allegations as "a nonsense".

While Haumaha has apologised, Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was unaware of the "deeply disappointing" comments when he gave Haumaha's name to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the deputy commissioner role.

Under questioning in Parliament by National MP Chris Bishop yesterday, Nash also confirmed the "Wally" he mentioned in Facebook video post about lifting weights was Haumaha.

Police Minister Stuart Nash 'calling out' Wally Haumaha after a gym session. Photo / Supplied.
Police Minister Stuart Nash 'calling out' Wally Haumaha after a gym session. Photo / Supplied.

"Peeni Henare, Wally and Alf - Just calling out those who doubted. All in the name of trying to keep the ageing body in some sort of shape. Hard on a parliamentary diet," Nash posted in April, referring to fellow MPs and Haumaha.

Nash said he did not lift weights with Haumaha and they did not have a personal relationship.

The comment was "odd", said Chris Bishop.

"I certainly think it's strange you've got the Minister calling out on social media someone who is now the Deputy Commissioner of Police."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to comment on the Facebook banter between Nash and Haumaha.

"I'm hugely frustrated to be in a situation where an appointment has been made and now we're having information being drip fed out, which should have been made available at the time of the appointment. That's why we're undertaking this work," said Ardern, referring to the inquiry.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is 'hugely frustrated' with new information coming to light. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is 'hugely frustrated' with new information coming to light. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

The Cabinet is still considering candidates to conduct the inquiry after the original reviewer, Pauline Kingi, resigned last week amid revelations by the Herald that she had endorsed Haumaha 23 times on the professional networking website LinkedIn.

Haumaha's links to New Zealand First have also dogged the inquiry - overseen by Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, a NZ First MP - although the PM has downplayed any suggestions of a conflict of interest.

One of the three women who walked out of police headquarters - and did not return - is now planning to make a formal complaint about Haumaha's alleged behavior.

She says the trio raised the matter with their respective managers, which is why they kept working on the project from the national office of the Justice Ministry.

However, she was never asked to make a formal complaint and the women believed their managers would handle it on their behalf.

Conflicting accounts have emerged from the Justice Ministry, Corrections and Police about what happened next.

Corrections said there was no record of any allegation of bullying.

"Issues were raised" about the management of the project, according to the Justice Ministry, and that's why staff continued working on the project from the Justice offices.

"The issues around behaviour were raised at the highest level between the Acting Chief Executive of the Ministry Audrey Sonerson and Deputy Commissioner of Police Mike Clement," said deputy chief executive Colin Lynch.

"The Ministry expected Police to follow up this issue appropriately."

Sonerson herself went on to become a Deputy Police Commissioner but is currently seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

And the police say an allegation of bullying was made to Clement by a "third party, external to all agencies". The individuals were not named.

"Clement immediately made contact with the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections to request more information and advise that the staff involved could make a complaint if they wished.

"No further information or complaints were forthcoming to Mr Clement from the agencies.

"In the absence of any formal complaint, or further information, the matter was unable to be taken further, and therefore not escalated to the Commissioner."

One of the women, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said no one told her Clement had been in touch with Justice or Corrections.

"Nobody told me about it. I'm like, wow, because we would have met with [Clement]," she said, when the Herald told her of the response from police.

"I will make a complaint now. We trusted management to deal with it and never heard back."