John Tamihere says it’s disgraceful that a Government ministry sought advice into his potential conflicts of interest because he's standing for the election while being the chief executive of two non-government agencies.
Māori Party co-leader Tamihere is standing in Tāmaki Makaurau. But, his day jobs include being the chief executive of both Te Pou Matakana, a taxpayer-funded Whānau Ora commissioning agency, and social services agency Waipareira Trust.
Te Pou Matakana is set to receive more than $80 million this year, while the Waipareira Trust recently developed 120 social housing units alongside iwi for the Government.
The Māori Party is also promising that, if elected, it would allocate 50 per cent of new social housing to Māori.
Tamihere's roles led the Ministry of Māori Development to take advice on Tamihere’s potential conflicts of interest.
The advice centred around how The Ministry of Māori Development and the Minister for Whānau Ora should manage potential or perceived conflicts of interest arising from Tamihere’s roles in their contractual dealings with him.
Tamihere called it “a disgraceful little act”.
“The reason why it's a disgraceful little act is that there is no law, regulation or policy around that,” he said.
Public servants who stand for office must stand down while campaigning. However, it didn't apply to Tamihere.
The Public Service Commission told 1 NEWS that because Te Pou Matakana and the Waipareira Trust are non-government agencies, they're not bound by political neutrality requirements.
However, political commentator and former National Party press secretary Ben Thomas said questions remained.
“It's always difficult when organisations working within the community can be seen to be aligned with a political party,” Thomas said.
“Te Pou Matakana is not a political organisation. And so, really, John Tamihere in order to protect his organisation and the people in it probably should have at least, at the very least, taken leave when he started campaigning as a candidate in this election.”
Former MP Tau Henare - who represented New Zealand First, Mauri Pacific and the National Party - challenged that view and said there was no conflict.
"Māori can't help it you know if our nine to five or whatever jobs entail us working for the whānau. That's what we do," he said.