New Zealand to review contracts awarded to foreign minister's husband

This involves a company owned by the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta (left). PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON - New Zealand's top public servant will review how government agencies handled any conflicts of interest when they awarded contracts to a company owned by the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes disclosed the review in a letter released Wednesday by opposition politician Simeon Brown, who has been calling for an investigation.

Minister for the Public Service, Mr Chris Hipkins, also asked Mr Hughes to look into the matter, according to the letter.

Mr Brown had asked for a review of how four different agencies, including the Ministry of Maori Development and the Ministry for the Environment, managed contracts with Ms Mahuta's husband Gannin Ormsby, other members of Mr Ormsby's family and his company Ka Awatea Services (KAS). There is no suggestion that Ms Mahuta had a role in awarding any of the contracts.

Mr Hughes said while the matter didn't reach the threshold for a formal inquiry, he was prepared to look into how the agencies "managed perceived or actual conflicts of interests concerning KAS and its associated business enterprises and form a view on the adequacy of what has occurred."

Mr Hipkins has also asked the commission to look across the broader public service to establish if any other agencies have contractual relationships with KAS and, if any exist, to ensure that the way agencies managed those relationships is in order, Mr Hughes said.

Ms Mahuta is also Minister of Local Government and Associate Minister of Maori Development. BLOOMBERG

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