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Another Green MP in New Zealand is Being Investigated for Unlawful Behavior


Greens MP Darleen Tana was suspended in April on full pay, while investigation into her behavior has cost the taxpayer $43,000 so far.

The NZ Green Party has been working to regain its reputation after young MP Golriz Ghahraman was forced to resign due to shoplifting charges. Another MP is currently under investigation for potential involvement in illegal migrant worker exploitation.

An investigation by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has prompted the Party to conduct its own investigation, costing taxpayers $43,000 so far, with more expenses expected in the future.

The case involves Christian Hoff-Nielsen, the husband of MP Darleen Tana, who operates an e-bike business accused of not paying wages to migrant worker Santiago Latour Palma.

Mr. Hoff-Nielsen denies the allegations, stating that the worker was not paid in cash or owed any money. He also mentioned that Ms. Tana supervised the worker during a trial period when he worked for cash.

However, it has come to light that Mr. Hoff-Nielsen has a history of ERA actions related to the companies he manages.

In one case, he was found to have not paid an employee and terminated another suddenly, resulting in significant compensation payments and unpaid wages by his companies.

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One complainant described Mr. Hoff-Nielsen as “difficult to work with” and having a “dysfunctional employment relationship.”

The focus regarding MP Darleen Tana, who previously co-owned the business with her husband before selling her interest in 2019, is on the timing of her disclosure to then-co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw about the complaint, and their subsequent actions.

(L-R) Green Party MP's Marama Davidson, Chlöe Swarbrick, Jan Logie and now-resigned Golriz Ghahraman arrive at Ihumātao to meet with those opposed to the proposed Fletcher Building housing development in Auckland, New Zealand on July 26, 2019. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)
(L-R) Green Party MP’s Marama Davidson, Chlöe Swarbrick, Jan Logie and now-resigned Golriz Ghahraman arrive at Ihumātao to meet with those opposed to the proposed Fletcher Building housing development in Auckland, New Zealand on July 26, 2019. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

She disclosed the issue on Feb. 1, leading Ms. Davidson and Mr. Shaw to suspend her from her small business portfolio. However, this information was withheld from the caucus, Parliament, and the public.

On Feb. 9, a third party informed the Greens of another complaint filed with the ERA.

This lack of disclosure by Ms. Tana resulted in her being permanently removed from her portfolio, a decision that was not publicly announced but hidden in a cabinet reshuffle following Ms. Ghahraman’s resignation.

A few days later, in her maiden speech to Parliament, she extensively discussed small businesses, without the knowledge of her demotion or her husband’s charges.

It wasn’t until March, after media disclosure and direct questioning from Green co-leaders, that Ms. Tana was suspended and an investigation initiated.

The party engaged lawyer Rachel Burt to conduct an independent review of the allegations and Ms. Tana’s handling of the situation.

Still Receiving a Full Salary

The internal investigation is being funded through the Green Party leaders’ office budget, allocated by the Parliamentary Service and paid by taxpayers.

In addition to the $43,000 already spent, Ms. Tana has been on leave from work and Parliament for half of its sitting days this year, all while receiving her full annual salary of $163,961.

If serious wrongdoing is found by either the ERA or the Burt inquiry, Ms. Tana may be asked to resign. Should she refuse, she could continue as an independent MP, earning a publicly funded salary for over two years. This could potentially affect the credibility of the Greens, a party known for advocating against migrant exploitation and for stronger labor regulations and higher taxes.

Ms. Tana is the third Green MP in less than a year to be embroiled in scandal after Elizabeth Kerekere, who left the party amid bullying allegations, and Ms. Ghahraman.



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