from the Daily Examiner

There is a saying that there are only two degrees of separation between anyone in New Zealand. Using only publicly available records, a diligent researcher has uncovered an explosive network of powerful connections with Nanaia Mahuta at its nexus. In most other “western” nations including NZ’s closest trading partners, such connections would never have been allowed to happen.

Nanaia Mahuta holds many important ministerial portfolios in the NZ Government, including the prestigious Minister of Foreign Affairs. She is the Minister of Local Government and is responsible two of the most significant changes in NZ’s governance since the Treaty of Waitangi, He Puapua and the consequent Three Waters reforms. Internationally, it is highly unusual for both domestic and international portfolios to be held by the same person. Such a confluence is avoided for the obvious conflicts that inevitably arise.

Mahuta’s current and former roles can be found here on the NZ Parliament website.

Conflicts of interest will arise in a small nation. However those can be handled appropriately, such as by the handing off of appointment authority to a completely disinterested 3rd party. NZ has seen the appropriate handling of such conflicts such as in the appointment of an overseas judge to review Crown compensation for judicial decisions. The Cabinet Manual provides for this with very clear rules for Ministers.

Conflicts of interest have been taken very seriously in the past. A well-known instance of this involved Judith Collins, her husband and Oravida, a Chinese company established in 2011 to export NZ produce to China. Collins’s husband was a director of Oravida. In 2014, Collins was accused of a conflict of interest. During a taxpayer-funded visit to China in her role as Justice Minister in 2013, she dined with a Chinese border official and Oravida bosses, and endorsed the milk the company produced.

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