A brief word on Key deleting his text messages



PM John Key’s text message deleting examined
Dirty Politics has sparked another official probe – this time by the guardian of the country’s public records.

Chief archivist Marilyn Little has agreed to a call from Green MP James Shaw to investigate Prime Minister John Key for deleting text messages.

The practice came to light last month amid a furore about Key’s messages to attack blogger Cameron Slater. Key says he destroys text messages in case his phone is lost.

If the Prime Minister is at a loss to account for text messages he is sent, perhaps the Chief archivist should contact Cameron Slater and ask for all his copies, including the tape recordings he has of John Key’s phone calls?


  1. Hah, unbelievable, as I have just been reading on the Archives NZ website, and about the role of the Chief Archivist, also thinking about the steps the Greens have taken, to hold John Key to account for his “public records”!

    I looked at the Public Records Act 2005, and yes, John Key as PM is holder of a public Office, and therefore is bound by the Act to keep precise and appropriate records about what he does, says, writes and so forth, in his capacity as Prime Minister.

    But as we know it, he will find ways of explaining his actions, using gaps in the law, and claim, the text messages were not of much relevance, and could therefore be destroyed.

    This will be one of the first important topics I will follow in 2015. It cannot be allowed that the PM or any other “public servant” simply deletes records, that she/he deems as not being important or “private”, when in many cases they are not so, or on the borderline.

    Good on for James Shaw to take his mentioned action. It is time to stop the PM playing silly bugger and mad cap little boy with big toys, when he is supposed to professionally and responsibly lead the nation, and do that to BETTER our all future!


  2. Surely, after the passing of the TCIS bill, all his texts are being held by his telco, as per the requirements of the act… you know, just in case….

  3. Well done Martyn,

    Thanks for alluding us to further cover-ups this PM is so well known as using to cover his tracks.

    I was a Telco Business technician at a major foreign Talco during the 1990’s.

    I also can verify what others have already said here, that all Telco’s retain all phone records for a period from at least several months to years depending on importance.

    And a PM’s records would be deemed important indeed, so good for someone looking into this.

    Good luck for your New years eve Martyn, a we look forward to keep the Government under the microscope from again during the months and years ahead.

  4. There are only two reasons for deleting text messages. A full Inbox or the message recipient having something to hide. If not all messages were deleted it has to be the latter.

  5. Thank you Martyn for bringing something as important as this out into the open. Good work.

    As an elected public representative of the people of NZ, Key is therefore public property and everything he does in his capacity as PM, has to be open and available for public scrutiny.

    Hopefully, 2015 will be the year John Key and his fellow corrupt mob of miscreants are made accountable to the people of NZ!

    It’s us who call the shots, NOT HIM and he has to be aware of this fact.

  6. And I bet it’s not just Slaters texts that will be uncovered, I foresee insider trading and dodgy business deals in there too.

  7. The very worst thing that may come of this , is that the New Zealand / Aotearoans public will grudgingly come to accept this shit .
    In my more paranoid moments I sometimes wonder if the entire post – Dirty Politics affair hasn’t become a dark psychological strategy to disarm the population of its ability to arm itself and fight back .

    A couple of justifications for that paranoia might be ;

    Why is Key still in our office ?

    What’s our Governor General doing, besides sitting in a quiet corner with his finger up his arse ?

  8. I’ve worked in Government information management, aka public records, and I don’t recall text messages being considered as public records until it was raised by the Green Party.

    This would be very tricky to police across the Public Service as most public servants use their personal phones at times for work. More senior public servants, though, and MPs, do get government phones and any communication on that phone should be regarded as a public record. The only exception would be a text or email that said, for example, “The meeting has been moved to 2 pm.”

    • Once upon a time, in the long, long ago, there were things called ‘files’ – or paper-based records.

      And, if you made a significant phone call to someone you – wrote a note and put it on the file so it became part of the ‘story’.

      Creating a paper trail so, for example, in the case of the old 999 year leases for the high country runs, present and future generations could follow the interactions and understand. Could see when precedents had been set and the circumstances. Another aspect of ‘case law’, perhaps.

      I don’t know about the present incarnation of the public service, including the temps in the Beehive, but those are the old rules of the game.

      What they do in private enterprise – who knows? (Though there’s usually someone who knows where the ‘corpses’ are hidden.)
      But it is different in the public service. Or used to be.

      So all those Very Important People with cell phones who pretend they’re busy by phoning people at weird hours – they have the obligation to make a paper record of that interaction and post it to file because the file will be there long after they’re consigned to the shredder of history.

      Thanks, Greens. Yes, it matters.

  9. For goodness sake, so now the PM can’t delete texts. What next, should he also keep old Post-It notes? Maybe he should be required to record every conversation. Maybe his office should have a recording device, you know, to keep him on the straight and narrow. And who knows what important matters of state are discussed around his family dinner table…

    Seriously, if it’s good enough for the PM, maybe we should hold every MP to the same requirement (keep all texts), just in case we need to OIA them. I can’t even start to imagine the bureaucratic nightmare that would ensue – and all for the purpose of better government, right???

    Hey, but why stop there, public servants need to be held accountable too….

    • Duncan, when the Prime Minister takes the risk, or does so even intentionally, for perhaps ulterior motives, to converse with a highly controversial, toxic and nasty “blogger”, who makes jokes about youngsters killing themselves, then the question is justified to ask for the Chief Archivist to comment on what may or may not be “public records”.

      The Prime Minister holds the most powerful and also important role in this country, as leader of the government of the day, and has duties and responsibilities. Given his position, he should act responsibly and maturely, and offer true transparency, about what he does, says and writes as PM. Even in his private times he should be mindful of his job, and not bring the position into disrepute.

      So while some like to ridicule and dismiss the revelations that Nicky Hager brought to the fore in his last book, there have been very serious matters brought to the public’s attention, that deserve answers.

      Only an irresponsible, or perhaps “guilty” or embarrassed PM would delete ALL his text messages, even the ones he sends as PM. During the execution of his duties and authority he must ensure that reasonable efforts are made to keep records of communications, that he has.

      If you suggest he should be allowed to clown around in his private times, socialise and communicate with persons of poor repute, and do other things that appear questionable or irresponsible, then perhaps you do not give much value and credit to the position of PM, and for that sake the government we have.

      I do not feel comfortable with John Key texting around with all sorts of characters, one also implicated in “smearing” or slandering opposition politicians, with character assassinations of public servants and so forth. I do not feel comfy with him using the excuse that he deleted all his text messages.

      Perhaps on “Planet Key” it is always “party time” and a bit of a “circus” where “clowning around” is the norm, but that gives me great worries about the state this country is in, and about who is in charge.

    • So what’s happened to the Right wing rallying cry of “Nothing to hide- Nothing to fear!” ???

      Yep- thought so.

  10. Strange that the last blog believes the PM does not need to “comply” as the PM and his mob are forcing on the entire citizenry to be controlled under these orders of “compliance” since the NatZ took office in 2008.

    NatZ have placed compliance as the catchword in every corner of our lives today.

    National were then vowing “less Government interference” and less “rules” remember his pledge in 2008?

    Well here we have Duncan Brown requesting we allow the architect of over now over-controlled citizenry to be left un-compliant to the same rules he applies us all citizens?

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