Life in Level 1: Cunning Plans, Unanswered Questions


The last 24 hours in Aotearoa’s New Zealand’s politics has provided more drama than a week’s worth of “Shortie Street” episodes combined and binge-watched.

It began approximately around 5.30  last night (7 July) with a disclosure by Clutha-Southland MP, Hamish Walker that he had leaked a list of eighteen covid19-infected Returnees names and details to three media outlets. (None of the three media companies, to their credit, released a single piece of personal info from the list.)

As an explanation, Mr Walker said he released the names, ages, and other details of the eighteen infected Returnees to reject accusations of racism and to prove his assertion ;

“These people are possibly heading for Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown from India, Pakistan and Korea.”

However, it was stated on RNZ’s Morning Report (8 July) that the List proved no such thing (@4.33).

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Mr Walker then offered another explanation;

“I did this to expose the government’s shortcomings so they would be rectified.

The information that I received was not password protected by the government. It was not stored on a secure system where authorised people needed to log on. There was no redaction to protect patient details, and no confidentiality statement on the document.

I made serious allegations against the government’s Covid-19 response and passed on this information to prove those allegations.”

So the first explanation was to save himself from being tarred as a jingoistic racist. The subsequent  explanation was framed to sound more “noble”.

Moreover, National’s former President, Michelle Boag, gave her “explanation” that;

“I very much regret my actions and did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets but I am grateful that the media involved have chosen not to publish the 18 names that were contained within it.”

Ms Boag also (partially) revealed how she had come into possession of the list;

“The information was made available to me in my position as then Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, although it was sent to my private email address.”

Many questions remain unanswered and a full picture remains unclear:

Q1: Who sent the email to Ms Boag? Why? What other personal, confidential details has this person sent to Ms Boag or others? What access does this person have?

Q2: Is this person an employee of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust?

Considering that ARHT has stated categorically that Ms Boag would not have had direct access to patient data, the only other possibility is a person or persons unknown supplied it to her.

Q3: Will QC Mike Heron question Ms Boag?

Q4: Will QC Mike Heron attempt to find the identity of who sent the email to Ms Boag?

Q5: Will QC Mike Heron question Hamish Walker?

Q6: Will QC Mike Heron question Todd Muller?

Q7: Will QC Mike Heron have full access to all electronic devices belonging to Mr Walker, Ms Boag, Todd Muller, and anyone else who becomes implicated in this leak? Will forensic investigation be allowed on their devices?

Q8: What (if any) was Matthew Hooton’s involvement? What did Matthew Hooton know and when?

Q9: Will QC Mike Heron investigate Mr Hooton’s electronic devices?

Q10: When did Todd Muller find out? He claimed it was Monday (6 July) “lunch time“. What did he do in the intervening 30 hours that followed, before Mr Walker went public?

Q11: Mr Muller says he does not know Mr Walker’s motivation to release the List. Why did Mr Muller not ask Mr Walker’s motivation when he spoke directly with Mr Walker on Monday?

Q12:  Was it really a “rogue operation” involving just two people? Who else knew about Ms Boag and Mr Walker’s use of the List?

Q13: What was the purpose of Ms Boag passing the list to Mr Walker? Why did she choose him? What discussion did the two have?

Ms Boag said to Stuff;

“It would be inappropriate for me to do that because I would be disclosing more details.”

So. There are “more details” she has not disclosed. What are those “details”?

Q14: If Ms Boag “did not anticipate that Hamish would choose to send it on to some media outlets” – what did she anticipate he would do with the List?

Q15: What other personal details has Ms Boag passed on in her role as acting CEO of Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust?

Q16: Why will Ms Boag and Mr Walker not front to media interviews? What do they know that remains unsaid?

Q17: What did Nikki Kaye know and when?

Q18: What prompted Mr Walker and Ms Boag to go public on 7 July? What factor(s) forced them to abandon their secrecy? Were they about to be “outed”?

There is more to this abuse of power than we have been told. The National Party damage control machine has swung into full mode and has successfully contained this outbreak of scandal.

They may be hopeless at containing viral outbreaks – but masters par excellence at managing scandals. (Perhaps because of considerable past experience.)

This is the party that thinks it is fit to govern.


According to a late evening news story on RNZ, Michelle Boag revealed the source for the List of eighteen covid19 positive Returnees. She claimed the information came from the Ministry of Health by way of emails that were regular updates sent to emergency medical services;

When she announced her involvement in the leak, Boag said she had access to the private information as the acting chief executive of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

She added the personal information was sent to her private email, but did not disclose who sent it – until now.

Boag told RNZ the Ministry of Health had sent daily emails to her private email, which included the sensitive details of the country’s Covid-19 cases.

Boag couldn’t explain why it was sent to her private email, but suspected it was because she was only temporarily in the role of chief executive.

The government has already confirmed emergency services were regularly sent the details of the country’s active cases, so they could take the proper precautions if responding to a call-out where someone with Covid-19 was present.

If this is true, then this makes her role in this scandal even worse.

The information would have been sent to her in good faith by the Ministry of Health. She was in a position of trust and privilege.

The information would have been intended to be used by emergency services in case their personnel ever had to attend an incident involving covid19-positive patients.

Sending helicopter medics blindly to a situation where covid19 was present would have endangered their lives and those around them.

For Ms Boag to wilfully mis-use this information for nefarious political purposes will destroy her career forever.






RNZ:  How the Hamish Walker Covid-19 patient detail leak played out

Stuff media: National MP Hamish Walker admits passing on leaked Covid-19 patient info from former party president Michelle Boag

Scoop:  Press Statement From Michelle Boag –  7 July 2020

Mediaworks/Newshub: Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says Michelle Boag ‘never’ had access to COVID-19 data

RNZ: Todd Muller ‘hugely angry’ after Walker/Boag leak   (

RNZ: National Party board to meet about Hamish Walker (

Stuff: National MP Hamish Walker admits passing on leaked Covid-19 patient info from former party president Michelle Boag

RNZ: Covid-19 privacy breach info came from Health Ministry, Michelle Boag says

Twitter: Colin Jackson – 7 July 2020


RNZ:  National’s attacks not what we need right now

Previous related blogposts

Life in Lock Down: Day 2 of Level 3

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – No, Dr Bloomfield!

Life in Level 1: The Taxpayer’s Coin




Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).



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  1. Brilliant cartoon, and National are definitely ‘not fit to govern’*, Frank. But we already knew that.

    Your carefully crafted cutting questions will largely go unanswered, I suspect.

    *Unless you are a wealthy member of ‘the club’ and can look forward to even more unearned and undeserved accumulation of wealth and property.

    For the other 99% of the population, another National government would be a disaster far exceeding the disasters of all previous National governments combined.

    • For the other 99% of the population, another National government would be a disaster far exceeding the disasters of all previous National governments combined.

      Indeed, AFKTT. Whether it’s the sheer incompetence of the Nats; their utter lack of vision; or simply terrifying the populace by constantly demanding to open up without adequate testing and other precautions – I think the majority r that they are as much a threat as the virus. (Hence Colin Jackson’s timely comment, above, on Twitter.)

      When the Opposition cannot even fulfill the role of an Opposition, with no coherent criticisms and alternatives ( more roads don’t count), then what possible hope for hem as a potential government?

      The answer is none, of course.

      Mr Muller’s looseness with the truth, as evidenced in the last 48 hours, is also cause for concern.

    • We’ve had a few answered, Steve, and a lot that still remain. I’d still like to know what prompted Mr Walker and Ms Boag to make their revelations public on Tuesday.

      Someone was working behind the scenes and I can only surmise that “someone” had such a dislike of Michelle Boag that when he learned what had happened he made clear that he would go public with the information. That forced Mr Walker and Ms Boag’s hands to go public.

      That’s my guess, anyway.

      Still, other questions remain; how many other Nats knew of this? What was the gameplan? And what else is Mr Muller holding back?

      I simply find it incomprehensible that when Mr Muller spoke directly with Mr Walker on Monday that he did not ask the most basic question: what was Hamish Walker’s motivation?

      And why did Michelle Boag choose Mr Walker to undertake this “cunning plan”?

      More questions.

      And unfortunately, today’s Newshub Nation made zero attempt to address the issue.

  2. Excellent post Frank Macskasy.

    I’m looking forward to the in depth public investigation and grilling of all the scum involved in this filthy politics scandal. There’s enough dirt and muck here to keep Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner and Tova O’Brien busy for weeks trying to paper over the ever widening cracks of their crooked pay masters.

    After months of lock down hardship New Zealanders expect and deserve all our politicians to be rowing in a roughly similar direction, helping pull the the country safely toward the shores of good health and economic stability. Using an unprecedented worldwide pandemic as a tool for political manipulation is a spineless and shameful way to attempt to discredit the current government. It shows how low and and far into treacherous waters the poorly performing right wing Nats are prepared to drag the good ship Aotearoa. For what, a few percentage points at the polls?

    This is absolutely reprehensible behaviour! These knob ends can’t be trusted with being in charge of shovelling freshly laid cow shit at Shifty McShits shit producing, river polluting shit farm, let alone with trying to be leaders in our community. What below the waterline scam will they come up with next? I’m sure there’s more muck to be raked in the lead up to the election, but really, in these heady times is this the best we as race of enlightened beings can achieve?

    It’s time, for the sake of all our people and the future of our whole country and who knows, maybe even the whole world – as they have been watching us closely, for real statesmen and woman to stand up and be counted.

    It’s most definitely not the time to sod off for a cup of tea and a wee lie down, thinking maybe if I close my eyes all this might just go away.

    • Using an unprecedented worldwide pandemic as a tool for political manipulation is a spineless and shameful way to attempt to discredit the current government. It shows how low and and far into treacherous waters the poorly performing right wing Nats are prepared to drag the good ship Aotearoa. For what, a few percentage points at the polls?

      If that was the plan, BB, (and it’s the most plausible) it went horribly awry. Not only did it fail, but it gave the public another glimpse into the darkest corners of National Party machinations.

      If anything costs them the election, this will be it.

      Still, the question arises: what went wrong and what forced Hamish Walker to come clean? That is the missing piece in this puzzle.

  3. I doubt Mike Heron QC reads TDB. Have you sent him a list of your questions, Frank? Could save him a lot of initial work and the taxpayer a few dollars.

    • Great comment.

      It beggars belief that a large chunk of the voting population still think their behaviour is even acceptable, let alone worth voting for.

      We might be a “Team of 5 million”, but some of us seriously need to spend some time with the sports psychologist!!

  4. Who, in the media organisations this info was sent to, has seen it and what have they done with it?
    It’s the old “who polices the police”. Who reports on the reporters??

    • Exactly Jase. Succinct and to the point. Well said.

      The media are a law unto themselves and I doubt we will ever find out what these media organisations have done with the information but what is clear is that the mainstream right wing media marketing arm for the National Party is already full-on into damage control for National saying things like Muller has moved “quickly” on the issue and by saying this somehow implying that he is a strong leader. Well, Muller had to move quickly – there was nothing else he could have done when you consider the seriousness of the breach and the criminality that attaches to it.

      • It terrifies me youngsuffrajet to see today how swiftly and unashamedly the major media providers have positioned themselves to defend the Nats egregious behaviour.
        It only places more emphasis on entities like TDB to play the vital role they do in bringing balance to our 4th estate.

    • Evidently, Jase, Mr Walker sent his List to three media organisations. One of them being RNZ.

      Kudos to them for showing wisdom and restraint and not publishing any part of it. Not only would it have violated people’s privacy, but would have earned the scorn of most of the population.

      I suspect it will never see the light of day.

  5. Well, Frank,… a jolly good list of questions there, I’m sure that will keep them going for awhile,… I’m wondering about QC Heron however,… will he whitewash or will he be blunt and to the point? We’ve all seen the charades of past inquiry’s and the ‘smoothing over’ of political figures, – will QC Heron break the mould and treat us to real justice?

    After all ,.. are we not a democratic nation that abides by the rule of law?

    • I will be very interested in QC Heron’s report as well, WK. He’s been handed two heads on a platter; Mr Woodhouse’s admission; inconsistancies from Todd Muller’s comments, plus other vital ‘leads’ for his investigation. If he can’t come up with something concrete to answer the questions I posed, there’s something seriously wrong somewhere.

    • Wow mosa – that linked article should be compulsory reading for everyone on TDB.
      Really highlights the awful truth about our MSM.

      • Agree Jase and thanks MOSA, this link should be forwarded to the Labour Party, so they know what sort of vile scheming and manipulation they are up against, and the fact they do have supporters outside of the dirty blue politics, sulphur and brimstone-filled bubble of NZ politics.

        Colin Jackson’s Comment that ”NZ is fighting the Nats and the virus at the same time ‘ is so true, but dirty fighting and dirty viral loading.

        Labour is fighting two forms of virus, one of whom we thought we had gotten rid of when New Zealand told him resoundingly, where to put his alternative NZ flags, and as many predicted, ‘left politics to spend time with family” and polish his knighthood, (k)nightly.

        Muller’s “decisive move” on Walker, Nikki Kaye’s “see ya!” for Boag, were ways to polish the stinking dirty turd of National Politics, which has been a virus in our midst for at least 20 years or more.

        Colin’s piece reminded me that what the Natz Party want is to sanitise the crime scene and cauterise – “nothing to see here, hear here, or smell here, move on”, in other words, hide the turd of dirty politics under bigger news.

        Interesting that Tiwai Point chose TODAY to close down FFS. Coincidence? The DAY AFTER “smellaggedon in the National Party”. Smelt dodgy to me (intended) when I watched the news tonight. 2013 Tiwai asked Bill English for a bailout. And suddenly, 8 years later, and two months out from the election Tiwai shuts down “because of Covid”

        I fast forwarded waiting for Michelle to come on One News and tell us who emailed to her private email, the names of the Covid-18 non-whitely-coloured patients?

        FF FF FF fast forwarded the news, trying to see Machiavelia’s tattooed eyebrows NADA, Zilch.

        Mission accomplished – arch-villains defeated by unscrupulous dirty politics crew, with an Aluminium smelter closing, just in case the stench wafted near any undecided voters. Bye bye Boagie Woman and Haera Ra Hamish (that means have a good trip), a coincidental loss of $400 million a year from Clutha-Southland.

        I’m sure we will have a Clutha Southland National Politician (to replace the useless one and his predecessor), who will promise to re-open Tiwai, if you don’t mind the smell, the dirty stench of rotting political corpses.

        Nothing to see here, hear here, or smell here. Move on!

        Expect Hosking to blame Tiwai on Labour and NZ First and urge the voters to vote National to keep Clutha-Southland Great again “Happy Days”

        Nothing to see here, hear here, smell here – moved on!

        Business as usual for New Zealand’s most persistent virus National 2020 …. nothing to smell here move on.

    • I read that article, Mosa.

      It’s a mixed bag; some good material, some not so.

      This bit, 100%;

      Taken over time, New Zealand’s reporters have appeared focused on managing perceptions, berating and cajoling a fearful public on numerous fronts. In doing so, and from the earliest stages of a four-level alert system, public health concerns have been eclipsed by a clamouring commentariat, all seeking to score political points and undermine the government’s health-first priorities.

      A case can be made that the nation’s media, laundering many of the opposition’s attack lines and big business talking points, have repeatedly endangered public health.

      This was driven not only by the country’s clutch of prominent Fox News-style commentators – Mike Hosking, Heather du Plessis-Allan and Duncan Garner – each of whom hawks anger and division to drive ratings, but by senior reporters and editors.

      This bit is hard to fathom;

      Clark, the country’s most effective health minister in decades, tendered his resignation.

      It’s an opinion piece with a wide range of valid points mixed with head-scratching, questionable bits.

      However, with that caveat, it’s still worth a read.

  6. ” The information would have been sent to her in good faith by the Ministry of Health. She was in a position of trust and privilege ”
    Yes Frank but as demonstrated time and again the National party and its media accomplices these virtues are no longer valued or observed in our country.
    In fact the good people of Arrowtown and neighbouring Queenstown when asked about the scandal involving their local MP most were ” disappointed ” but would still be casting a vote for National in September.
    If they would just open their eyes a bit wider they would see that it goes much further than one MP and that the rot is systemic in the party they vote for every three years.
    In fact this type of insidious , vile approach is now become the norm since John Key encouraged ( from a distance ) this Nixonian dirty tricks approach to dealing with any and all opposition in New Zealand.

  7. I hope whoever supplied this information to Boag comes under very close scrutiny and is, if possible, sacked.

  8. My politics is beneath the surface so I don’t get the first winds of change but I know what matters. Surface passing winds, I can’t really get excited about. I regularly come up to the surface in the middle of these storms and am surprised.

    Down in the middle currents I like our Right compared … and increased demo-cracy and full-on fight against climate change are the only things that matter.

Comments are closed.