Released police minister Stuart Nash-police commissioner Andrew Coster communications 2023

During the response to Cyclone Gabrielle, former police minister Stuart Nash implored senior police leadership to “bang their heads together” with gang leaders.

RNZ has obtained communications between Nash and police commissioner Andrew Coster.

In a text message sent to Coster and Eastern District Commander Jeanette Park on 19 February, Nash suggested that Wally Haumaha be sent to Hawke’s Bay.

At the time, residents of Hawke’s Bay demanded an increased police presence in the region in response to reports of intruders who had damaged property.

The government also publicly dismissed claims of an increase in violence in Hawke’s Bay.

“Have him sit down with the gang leaders and smack their bloody skulls together in order to convince them to halt this s**t. The situation is quite grave, Nash wrote in the message.

He also suggested that fifty additional officers be assigned to Hawke’s Bay.

“Allow us to jointly announce tomorrow that an additional 50 officers will be deployed to the region, bringing the total to 150.”

Nash began the message by stating that he was not transmitting it in his capacity as minister of public safety.

The following day, Coster responded to Nash by stating that Haumaha had “some productive participation at his meetings today.”

“No silver bullet, but positive opportunities for ongoing discussion and, hopefully, de-escalation,” said Coster.

Nash told RNZ that he sent the text message on February 19 as Napier’s local representative.

“This was in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, when there was no power or communications, and rumors about gang violence and looting were rampant, but ultimately exaggerated,” Nash told RNZ.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Chris Hipkins stated that the text made it obvious that Nash was speaking in his capacity as the local Napier representative.

“The text was a request and not an order.

The spokesperson stated, “Given the concerns of the community at the time, it was not unreasonable for Stuart to advocate for them.”

Nash resigned as police minister in March after calling the police commissioner to criticize a judicial decision.

After it was discovered that he had sent an email containing confidential Cabinet information to two campaign donors, he was relieved of all his ministerial positions.

Nash will leave politics after the election in October.

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