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Stuart Nash admits communication issues from police around Whakaari-White Island tragedy

Police Minister Stuart Nash told police they haven't been effectively communicating around the Whakaari-White Island tragedy, after a five-minute press conference yesterday morning.

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Stuart Nash says Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement has been called in to take over operational control at Whakatāne. Source: Breakfast

Addressing media last night, Mr Nash announced Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement has been called in to take over operational control at Whakatāne.

"I've outlined my expectations to police around how they are to communicate," Mr Nash said.

"It is important that all parties remain fully involved of developments, as and when they occur.

"I expect a level of transparency and openness that perhaps has not existed up until now."

He'll be replacing Acting Assistant Commissioner Bruce Bird, who addressed media at yesterday's press conference on the Whakaari-White Island eruption.

Deputy Commissioner John Tims, in Wellington, remains the national commander.

It's not the first time communication from police has been an issue during the handling of the Whakaari-White Island tragedy.

On Tuesday, Mr Tims told media a criminal investigation would be launched into the eruption and deaths - only for police to backtrack an hour later and clarify there would not be a criminal investigation, only the coronial and WorkSafe ones.

Twenty-nine people remain in critical condition in hospital after the fatal eruption on Monday, which has killed six people and left eight others presumed dead on the island.