Former MoT boss Martin Matthews dressed up as Back to the Future's Marty McFly for staff presentation, at suggestion of fraudster Joanne Harrison

Former Ministry of Transport boss Martin Matthews as his alter ego, Marty McFly, in July 2013.
SUPPLIED

Former Ministry of Transport boss Martin Matthews as his alter ego, Marty McFly, in July 2013.

As Joanne Harrison carried out her $725,000 fraud on the taxpayer she gave her own boss the alter-ego of time-travelling Marty McFly.

Former Ministry of Transport boss Martin Matthews' curious pseudonym - appropriating Michael J Fox's time-travelling character in the 1985 movie Back to the Future - is revealed amid a Ministry of Transport document that can no longer be found on the Ministry's website.

Harrison, the Ministry's organisational development general manager at the time in 2013, is noted as the sole contact point for more information on the document.

Former MoT boss Martin Matthews in his day-to-day guise.
CRAIG SIMCOX/FAIRFAX NZ

Former MoT boss Martin Matthews in his day-to-day guise.

The ministry confirmed the report was authored by her team and also that  Marty 'McFly' Matthews came with posters, animated videos and intranet content - all developed in-house. There were also two cardboard cut-outs of him in character.

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Michael J Fox, as Marty McFly, rides a hoverboard in Back to the Future 2.
supplied

Michael J Fox, as Marty McFly, rides a hoverboard in Back to the Future 2.

At his Wellington home on Friday, Matthews confirmed it was Harrison who put the idea of the McFly character to him but the future-themed transformation of the Ministry was his - and something he remained proud of. 

"The results speak for themselves," he said.

Under his leadership, the Ministry attained the highest levels of staff engagement in New Zealand's public sector and was one of the top policy organisations in the Government.

Joanne Harrison had her own alter ego - she was also known as Joanne Sharp.
SUPPLIED

Joanne Harrison had her own alter ego - she was also known as Joanne Sharp.

"I was proud to try something really different - to inspire people to achieve greater things."

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After Harrison's fraud was revealed, Harrison was jailed and Matthews - who had moved to the job as Auditor-General - stood down while a review into his suitability for the job was carried out.

Matthews would not comment on whether he had been thrown under the bus, though did say he had acted appropriately and with integrity throughout.

Fraudster Joanne Harrison brought the Marty McFly idea to her MoT boss.
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF

Fraudster Joanne Harrison brought the Marty McFly idea to her MoT boss.

An old interview with Matthews carried out by the Leadership Development Centre (LDC), where he was the board's finance committee chair, explained his alter ego.

In 2013, the Ministry had unveiled a two-year plan dubbed Back to MoT's Future. This looked at what it would be like to work for or with by July 2015.

It was then the character McFly was hauled from the depths of the 1980s. Matthews said on Friday he was not certain if Harrison had devised the McFly appropriation, but it was her who brought it to him.

"I thought it was quite an inspirational idea," he said.

The year 2015 was the future of hoverboards and flying cars that Marty McFly travelled forward to in Back to the Future 2, which came out in 1989.


Former Ministry of Transport boss Martin Matthews characterised as Marty McFly. Image: SUPPLIED

In the LDC interview, Matthews said the future-themed transformation and McFly character were "a major departure from usual change plans in the public sector − something that attracted a degree of concern or angst in some quarters...

"I think some people thought I had lost my marbles."

Further on he praised Harrison, who had "brought a different level of creativity, innovation and drive to how we think about change".

Matthews said his position ended at LDC because he stopped being a chief executive - a requirement for the position - with the ministry.

An LDC spokeswoman said the removal of the interview was due to a revamp of its website.

The ministry was asked why its document was not available on its website and if it had been removed. A spokesman could not confirm whether it had ever been online but said, if it had been up, it would have been removed because it was for an old graduate recruitment model.

He confirmed Matthews' claims of improving staff engagement and its policy advice ranking.

 - Stuff

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