Exclusive: Matthew Tukaki's job history not checked before Govt role

Yvonne Tahana
Source: 1News

Checks weren’t done on Matthew Tukaki’s resume before he was appointed to a key Government role.

And in the same week he was appointed to Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, 1News can exclusively reveal his CV holds inconsistencies.

Just over five years ago, Tukaki came home from Australia with claims of an extraordinary career, claiming he held down a role with the United Nations (UN) and led Drake International through the global financial crisis (GFC).

Back in New Zealand, he became the Māori spokesman on just about everything, and has taken on a number of Government roles.

That includes chairing an advisory board to turn around the maligned ministry, Oranga Tamariki, being a director for the Workforce Development Council for the Tertiary Education Commission, and this week he was appointed as the Director of the Suicide Prevention Office.

The circumstances surrounding Tukaki’s departure at the UN are disputed.

In his Māori Council bio, Tukaki claimed he was directly appointed to the global entity by the then Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to sit as a member of the institution’s governing board. According to Tukaki, he undertook the position for over three years.

A UN spokesperson said it was an elected position, not an appointment by the Secretary General, and one which he held for less than a year.

“He then had to resign the role of Local Network Representative when he was asked to step off the [Global Compact Network Australia] Board for an alleged serious breach of Director's Duties, including misrepresenting himself at meetings with the Australian Government."

Tukaki disagrees with the spokesperson’s representation of his departure.

“First of all, we were appointed by Ban Ki Moon in a press release on the sixth of May of 2013. And you've got to understand the process of election, I was elected. I'm very proud of that.

“I've got a proud track record of engaging with government officials and ministers of the day. I did not misrepresent myself.

“No, I wasn't asked to step off, but when I decided to resign... to be honest, I had a bit of a battle of wits with one of the other board members that played out in the board room that sometimes often happens,” Tukaki says.

In various places, including on LinkedIn, his biography for the Māori Council, and the information he presented to the Tertiary Education Commission, Tukaki described leading Drake International through the GFC, and holding power of attorney for the Southern Hemisphere at the recruitment company.

A spokesperson for Drake International rebuffed Tukaki’s description.

They say he worked there for a year between 2007 and 2008, and a further month in 2010, and that his title in their records in Australia was ‘General Manager, Government and Public Sector’.

A further top source at the company said Tukaki “overstated” the scope of his employment. When queried whether Tukaki had led the company through the GFC, the short response was, “not at all”.

When questioned about his statements of leading Drake through the GFC, Tukaki was to the point: “Yes, absolutely”. In a later statement provided by Tukaki, he said his job was to grow revenue and sales, which coincided with the GFC.

Tukaki was never asked for a CV when charged with turning the organisation around and being paid a rate of $1000 a day, on the taxpayer dime.

There was no requirement to check Tukaki’s employment history, says the Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis.

He was well-known and had previously been appointed to Government positions, Davis says.

“So we just trusted in what they had done, and I'd heard about the stuff he'd done apparently overseas. He was also the head of the Māori Council,” Davis said.

But checks at every step of the way were crucial, Senior Political lecturer at the University of Auckland, Lara Greaves, says.

“I think for such an important job like Oranga Tamariki, like all the mamae and hurt and trauma that needs to be solved and addressed in that area it’s of upmost importance that everything is checked.”