Public Service Commission to probe Government contracts issued to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband

Mahuta and husband

For months, we’ve been highlighting the complex web of family and commercial interests the current Government’s cabinet ministers seem to have with companies and individuals winning (without tender!) contracts with various government agencies.

So it is great news to see that, finally, Nanaia Mahuta will face scrutiny over her husband’s government contracts.

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes has announced an investigation into the many Government contracts obtained by Minister Mahuta’s husband, William Gannin Ormsby.

We are under no illusions that this is the end of the matter, but as the leftwing campaigner Max Rashbrooke, with whom we seldom agree, wrote last week, “by and large, we shouldn’t manage conflicts of interest, we should avoid them.” 

I can also tell you that there is more to come on questionable and undisclosed connections between another Minister and government contracts that our research team has dug up. Watch this space…

Your taxes paid for hospitals and schools *anime videos*

anime video

The Ministry for Youth Development must not have much to do. Even our student interns were at a loss to explain the purpose of spending $299,500 on three “Gotcha Girl” youth anime videos telling kids not to use Google, and to hang out with friends.

Two of the three videos have been released and have totally flopped. With barely one hundred views between them, your humble Taxpayers’ Union have republished the videos – but with a cost to taxpayers clock…  

The first episode warns teens about the dangers of using Google to find information before juxtaposing this with the Prime Minister at a Covid-19 press conference as the source of truth. If this is a video meant to warn against misinformation it seems odd that the world’s most used search engine should be the target.

The second video is even more confused. It appears to simply be encouraging young people to hang out with their friends. That’s nice, but not $100,000.00 of taxpayer funds to make it nice.

I’m sure someone will forward this newsletter to the Ministry of Youth Development and/or Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan and ask for an explanation. You might have better luck than us figuring it out.

Something more useful for the Ministry to do

Surely a focus on the current issues would be a better use of the Ministry’s time and (our) money?

If the Ministry wasn’t too busy making creepy videos, it would be focused at tackling the spikes in youth crime and ram raids. The latter are up 500% since 2018 (with the vast majority being committed by kids).

In May this year, the Government announced what is called a “Crime Prevention Package” costing $6 million and aimed at preventing ram-raids and other forms of retail crime. But other than the press release almost nothing has happened. No one bothered to roll out the fund.

One of our Student Interns, Alex, is doing what the Ministry of Youth Affairs isn’t: taking a look and has written a blog post on the so-called fund and the impact on communities caused by the Government’s lack of action.


Public sector pay gap growing: Nearly a third of public servants now paid over $100K

Wage Gap report cover

A few years ago we published a report with wage data exposing that the public sector unions’ claims that mandarins in Wellington are underpaid simply isn’t true.

But since then, it’s got a lot worse. Since 2017, there has been explosion in the number of highly paid public servants – with Stuff reporting that the number of public servants earning, sorry, being paid, more than $100,000 is 28%.

The increase has coincided with an increase in the number of workers, from 48,000 to 62,000 between 2017 and 2021.

[National MP, Simeon Brown] said some agencies had “substantial growth” in the proportion of workers earning $100,000 and more, such as the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, that increased from 29.3% to 65%.

Those who defend government spending often say that the government needs to pay a lot to attract doctors, nurses, and those who provide public services. But the figures above are only for the “core public sector agencies” – that doesn’t include Police, teachers, doctors, or nurses, rather just those in the Ministries (which is basically administration and policy wonks in Wellington).

Of course we should strive for a high-wage economy, but that should be driven by demand for expertise and skills. When taxpayer-funded public servants’ wages are inflated beyond comparable incomes in the private sector, our economy suffers.

This week on Taxpayer Talk with Peter Williams 🎙️🎧


Peter Williams is joined by Eric Crampton, Chief Economist at the New Zealand Initiative, to discuss the Government’s Three Waters reforms and his alternative proposal for how local councils can finance long-term infrastructure investment more effectively. Peter and Eric also discuss the Emissions Trading Scheme and outline why additional emissions reduction measures beyond the ETS are costly regulations that will not reduce emissions any faster.

Also this week, Peter sits down with retiring Hutt City Councillor, Chris Milne, to discuss the state of local government in New Zealand. Chris is a member and financial supporter of the Taxpayers’ Union and sits on our Board.

Listen to the episode | Apple Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeart Radio

Thank you for your support.

Jordan Williams
Executive Director
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union