After a 116-day inquiry, the Green Party today fronted on the outcomes of its independent investigation into besieged MP Darleen Tana.

It followed allegations of migrant worker exploitation at Tana’s husband’s business, which are before the Employment Relations Authority. The Green Party has said some of the allegations relate to Tana’s actions.

The Green co-leaders said that on March 14 they learned Tana “may have had some prior knowledge of the allegations” she had not disclosed to the party. This prompted the Greens’ independent investigation, which was led by barrister Rachel Burt. The investigation was focused on what Tana knew and when.

In a 40-minute press conference called today, Green co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick said Tana was invited to an urgent caucus meeting last Saturday at 1.30pm where she presented her perspective to her fellow Green MPs.

That was after the party’s leadership received the final investigation report at about 9.30pm on Friday.

All Green MPs — including Tana — were then provided with a copy of the report, and advised the co-leaders would seek their endorsement for a recommendation to request Tana resign from Parliament.

Tana had also had a draft report for “about a fortnight prior”, Swarbrick said today — although the co-leaders did not have access to it during that time.

Tana left the meeting to allow the caucus to discuss the recommendation, and before the meeting concluded, Tana wrote to the Green Party secretary and chief of staff, resigning from the Green Party.

After the Green caucus was told of Tana’s resignation as a party member, it unanimously voted to request Tana’s resignation from Parliament altogether.

The Greens then wrote to the Speaker Gerry Brownlee on Saturday night to inform him Tana was no longer a member of the Green Party parliamentary caucus, and formally wrote to Tana requesting her resignation as an MP.

Here’s what else we learned — and what answers weren’t given.

Tana has not yet responded to the Green Party

Swarbrick: “She has not yet responded to the substance of that request.”

What did Tana tell the Green MPs?

Swarbrick — fronting the press conference alone due to Marama Davidson’s sick leave to treat cancer — said she was “not in a position to disclose confidential conversations that occured at caucus”, adding it was a question best directed at Tana.

What is in the investigation report?

The Green Party says it wants to release the report but also recognised “the need to follow good practice around privacy law”.

“The party has contacted all parties named in the executive summary of the report in relation to their privacy interests with the intention of releasing that as soon as practicably possible.”

However, generally speaking, Swarbrick said the report found “the behaviour of Darleen Tana falls far, far short of the expectations myself, [Green co-leader] Marama [Davidson], and obviously, our caucus have – expectations not just of Green MPs but of any Member of Parliament.

“More so than that … it is our view that Darleen Tana has been far from forthright or upfront with us … it is our very strong view that she misled myself and Marama.”

“It goes to the core of who we are … this is really serious.”

Has Tana fronted to respond?

Tana was initially not responsive to requests for comment today, including approaches to her home and at the business her husband owned.

However, shortly after 5pm, she emailed a short statement to media, saying she did not accept the findings of the report and she would be “taking some time to consider it before making any further comment”.

Will the Greens use ‘waka-jumping’ rules to oust Tana from Parliament?

Under the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act – also known as the waka-jumping law – MPs who leave their political party during an electoral term to also leave Parliament. The Greens vehemently, but unsuccessfully, campaigned to repeal it in 2020.

Swarbrick said the caucus had not yet discussed the issue nor had the wider party.

“Right now the ball is sitting in Darleen’s court.

“We believe the best way to minimise any more harm and any collateral damage is for Darleen to resign.”

Tana with husband Christian Hoff-Nielsen.

She said the party had never confronted an issue such as this and the party was “hoping” Tana did “the right thing”.

“If she does not do that, then further discussions will ensue.”

Due to the wording of the law, however, it could be possible for Tana to stay on in Parliament as an independent MP – just as Elizabeth Kerekere and Meka Whaitiri did last term.

The Greens believe Tana has breached its candidate code of conduct

Swarbrick said this included candidates conducting themselves in a way that upheld “the good name of the party”, identifying “conflict with others as the conflict arises” and promptly disclosing any historical information which could bring the party into disrepute.

What does this say about the Greens’ candidate selection?

Swarbrick: “Darleen should have declared this and she did not do so … that’s the first and most important thing here.”

Swarbrick said it prompted the question of whether there needed to be a “tightening up” of candidate selection processes “where somebody doesn’t potentially declare something that they should have”.

“That’s a live process which is currently underway for the party reviewing those candidate selection processes right now, and myself and Marama — as you can expect — [are] very involved in that.”

What is the Greens’ response to the investigation taking 116 days?

Swarbrick said the scope of inquiry expanded as “more allegations came to light”.

She said the party had “swiftly made a decision” after receiving the report on Friday night, and the report had provided “a robust set of evidence” to form the basis of the co-leaders’ recommendation to request Tana’s ejection from Parliament.

Swarbrick said the investigation was prompted from the Green Party’s view Tana had not been upfront with the co-leaders.

“We could have completely curtailed that had there been that transparency from the beginning.”

Swarbrick said the report’s cost, up to $40,000 was paid for with Green Party parliamentary office money — a bulk allowance given to all parties, and paid for by taxpayers. Anything over and above this — of which she could not provide the figure but is at least $3000, has been paid for by the Green Party itself.

‘Utterly betrayed’ — Swarbrick’s personal reflection

Swarbrick said she had found it “really hard to reconcile somebody who I thought I knew – and loved – with the behavior that is outlined in this report, which falls far short of the expectations and again, what I thought I knew if this person participating and ostensibly upholding our Green Party kaupapa.”

“Scandals sit entirely apart from the trauma we have faced from the death of … Fa’anānā Efeso Collins [and] from Marama Davidson’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Swarbrick said the co-leaders had asked Tana about the allegations “multiple, multiple, multiple times”.

Teanau Tuiono, Chlöe Swarbrick and Ricardo Menéndez March.

Asked if it was one of the hardest times in her political career to date, Swarbrick said, “yeah, man”.

“I come here — all of our Green Party MPs come here — because we believe in climate and social justice, and we fight tooth and nail for that kaupapa. We hold strongly to the view that no one person changes the world alone. But the kind of counterfactual to that is that no one person is bigger than the kaupapa.”

With that in mind, Swarbrick was asked, how furious was she at Tana?

“I feel utterly betrayed,” she said.

Share.