Wed. Jul 24th, 2024
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Former Green MP Darleen Tana admitted to confronting a migrant worker during a heated incident in March 2023, threatening defamation action if he pursued an employment complaint against her husband’s bike business, E-Cycles NZ. The worker confirmed the altercation, and it was detailed in a report by lawyer Rachel Burt investigating Tana’s knowledge of alleged migrant exploitation at the business.

Confrontation at E-Cycles NZ

The incident occurred when Tana approached the worker at his new employer’s premises. Tana admitted that her “mama-bear instincts got the better of her” during the confrontation. This encounter is among the damaging findings in Burt’s report, which criticizes Tana’s inconsistent accounts of her involvement and knowledge of the grievances raised by former workers.

Burt’s Investigation Findings

tana husband
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Burt’s report found that Tana offered conflicting explanations about her awareness of the issues raised by former worker Santiago Latour Palma, who claims he is owed around $25,000 in wages. Tana initially denied knowledge of Palma’s issues until February 2024, but Burt found this claim unconvincing.

In a draft lawyer’s letter from February 12, Tana admitted that Palma had discussed his issues with her twice, but she claimed she could not help. Burt’s report also highlighted that Tana changed her story multiple times, including during meetings with senior Green Party members.

Involvement in Employment Issues

The report reveals that Tana never disclosed potential employment issues involving E-Cycles to the Green Party while a candidate and disclosed only one issue while an MP. Burt concluded that Tana was likely aware of the employment issues, as evidenced by extensive WhatsApp logs and other communications.

Resignation and Ongoing Investigations

Following the report’s findings, Tana resigned from the Green Party but remains an MP despite pleas from co-leader Chloe Swarbrick for her to step down. Swarbrick expressed feeling “utterly betrayed” by Tana’s actions, which fell “far short” of expected standards.

Tana released a statement criticizing the party’s process and rejecting the report’s findings, stating that it misrepresented her involvement in her husband’s business and did not establish her responsibility for migrant exploitation.

The ongoing Employment Relations Authority hearings will ultimately determine whether exploitation occurred at E-Cycles NZ.

-:TINBureau

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