Politics | Green Party

Greens suggested a tikanga approach to Darlene Tana at her marae after she quit the party

Teanau Tuiono and Darleen Tana. Image / Te Ao Māori News (composite)

The Green Party considered a tikanga Māori approach to create a peaceful resolution with MP Darlene Tana, although she had already resigned, following a lawyer’s report found she ‘likely’ knew about allegations of worker exploitation at her husband’s business and did not disclose them to the party.

That had followed allegations of allegations of migrant exploitation at Darlene Tana’s husband’s business, which led to the party commissioning a lawyer’s independent report on her involvement. Both Tzana and her husband have denied exploitation of migrants..

Greens Party Māori/Pacific caucus leader Teanau Tuiono said they had wanted the tikanga approach.

“E pirangi au ki te mahi i tērā, i waea atu au ki a Darlene i te Rātapu, mēnā ka hiahia a ia ki tērā o ngā āhuatanga, kia whakaritea ki te haere ki a ia, ki Waiheke, ki tōna marae ki Waiheke. Hei aha rā, kia tau te mauri i waenganui i a mātou me Darlene. Nōreira, he rā anō, engari e huaki ana te tatau mō tērā o ngā āhuatanga.”

“I wanted to do something like that, I spoke with her on Sunday and asked if she would be open to something like that, us to go to her in Waiheke, to her marae in Waiheke. To do what? To create peace between us and Darlene. So, there’s always a new day, but the door is open for something like that to happen,” Tuiono said.

The Green Party received the 116-page report from barrister Rachel Burt last Friday and it held an urgent caucus meeting to discuss it the next day. During that meeting Tana resigned from the part though not Parliament.

On Monday Green Party co-leader Chloe Swarbrick held a press conference to announce that Tana had resigned and that the party caucus was asking her to resign from Parliament too.

She declined to discuss details of the report until all people named in it were contacted.

Nevertheless, the executive summary of the report was leaked to both RNZ and the New Zealand Herald overnight.

They said Burt’s report found Tana likely knew about the allegations and chose not to disclose them to the Green Party.

RNZ said Burt wrote that Tana’s credibility was compromised due to inconsistencies in her statements. For instance she said hadn’t been a director and, when Burt mentioned the Companies Office record, Tana said she was a director for a short time but had no operational involvement.

The barrister wrote it was clear Tana was operationally involved at the time there were breaches of employment standards and said Tana’s name was included in the personal grievance letter from an employee seeking unpaid wages and compensation in January 2019.

WhatsApp messages had showed Tana requested a copy of the visa, acknowledged receipt of it, and being well versed in immigration applications and requirements it appeared she would have seen the visa wasn’t suitable, as the visa was for seasonal fruit picking. These weren’t disclosed to the Green Party.

RNZ said a former employee of E Cycles NZ said he made a police complaint after Tana approached him at his new work and said to stop saying negative things about the business. The employee also claimed Tana to be ‘threatening’ and said she would take defamation proceedings.

Tana was concerned by the party’s summary, rejected the findings of the report and believed it substantially represented her level of involvement.

“The report does not say that migrant exploitation has occurred, let alone that I am responsible for it in any capacity,” she said.