Metiria Turei admits she registered a false address to vote
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei "must resign immediately" after admitting further lies to authorities while raising her daughter in the 1990s, ACT Party leader David Seymour says.
Turei on Thursday night said she had enrolled at an address where she did not live in order to vote for a friend who was running in the Mount Albert electorate in 1993.
She denied reports she lived there with the father of her child while collecting the domestic purposes benefit.
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Turei says she was on the domestic purposes benefit - set up for single mums - at various times from 1993 to 1998.
Newshub reported that the habitation index, built from the electoral roll, shows her listed at the same address as her daughter's father in both 1993 and 1994.
It's not clear if she was using the benefit at those times, or if her electoral roll address was accurate.
If she was living with him she would be invalid for the benefit in the first place. Previously Turei has simply admitted to lying about how many flatmates she had - allowing her to claim more money, but not the entire benefit fraudulently.
Turei told Newshub she would not talk about personal relationships, and she couldn't recall the exact dates being discussed.
In a statement, Turei said she did not live at the same address as the father of her daughter.
"I was the sole provider for my daughter. I was fully financially responsible for us both," she said.
Turei said she was however enrolled to vote at the same address as the father, which was in the Mt Albert electorate.
"A friend of mine was running as a candidate in Mt Albert in 1993, and I wished to vote for them.
"That was a mistake – one of many I, like many other people, made as a young person."
Seymour said Turei "must resign as an MP immediately" because of her "admitted abuse of the welfare system in the 1990s and her abuse of voters' trust during the past weeks."
"New revelations prove Metiria Turei has abused the trust of not just the welfare system, but also the voters from whom she asked for sympathy," Seymour said.
"Voters can't be represented by someone they can not trust, and the Greens can't campaign while being led by an admitted, repeated liar who may be facing a number of charges by election day.
"She must resign. She has let down all the genuinely struggling New Zealanders she claimed to represent with her self-centred ego trip. Even when she claimed to be 'coming clean' to promote the Greens policy, she was actually taking sole parents and hardworking Kiwi families for a ride."
In her statement, Turei also confirmed that her mother had been living with her as a flatmate for a period during the mid-90s.
"We were financially independent while living together in the same home," she said.
TUREI MEETS WITH MSD
Turei had her first meeting with the Ministry of Social Development on Thursday morning, and afterwards said it was a good meeting, and she would cooperate fully.
"I'm very clear that I will certainly be repaying any overpayment.
"It was a good meeting, but I can certainly see how people don't have the resources that I do would find that quite traumatic," she said.
Turei walked into the meeting, "nervous" but said MSD "had a job to do" and she respected that.
"They have set out clearly the information they need from me and the process that they're going to undertake, so I'll provide that information and the process will roll out.
"They need the details about where I was living and what I was paying. They're going to be sending me that information - the list of the questions that they have. And then I can give them very accurate information in response."
But she would not be publicly releasing the details of her situation.
Turei revealed she was living with undeclared flatmates, while collecting the Domestic Purposes Benefit as a solo mother, and studying for a law degree in the 90s.
The admission came at the Green Party's annual conference, where she also unveiled a major new policy to overhaul the welfare system, and strip all sanctions to beneficiaries if they don't meet their obligations in receiving a benefit.
It's sparked a divisive public row, which has solidified Green support on the far left but has angered many voters in middle New Zealand and is argued to be a factor in Labour's own poor polling results.
Following an hour-long meeting at the Ministry of Social Development's Wellington headquarters, Turei said it was mostly to lay out the investigation process that would follow.
She was given no indication of the likelihood of charges, and no timeframe was set.
"They said that they will be assessing my entitlements over the period and using the information I provide to make that clear."
There was a danger Turei had opened herself up to prosecution.
"That is a potential consequence - I knew that when I first talked about my case in attempting to open up the discussion about what welfare is really like.
"But I said I will work with them on their investigation of the overpayment, and they will send me the questions that they have and I'll answer them as best that I can."
MSD investigators were "good" to Turei, but it was daunting process that would be "traumatic" for many, she said. Despite that, Turei said she did not think she was treated any differently at that level, to most members of the public.
"I think with any investigation like this, for people that don't have the kind of resources and the experience I have, I think it could be quite overwhelming.
"That's part of what we're trying to show people, that actually it's very hard for people to deal with the agency. They were very good to me, but I don't think that's the experience of most people who've had to deal with MSD."
Turei was equipped with a law degree and years of experience as an advocate, which few beneficiaries would have.