Shining the light – the second allegation

Shining the light on the Callaghan Due Diligence reports on Manaaki.  Allegation number 2.
A guest blog from my husband and co-crusader in our quest for justice for Manaaki and We Are Indigo.

A few weeks ago, I started picking over the the Due Diligence Reports on We Are Indigo/Manaaki. 

A quick recap – these reports were commissioned by Callaghan Innovation to support an RFP process.  They were written by a contracted private investigator John Borland, who had what appears to be an undisclosed conflicts of interest.  These reports were deliberately distributed to a number of government departments and agencies.  Since then, redacted reports of the summaries have been widely distributed, including from an anonymous Gmail address. 

This is in breach of the expectation of the confidentiality clauses in the procurement agreements.  There is a confidentiality carve-out in the RFP documentation allowing for some matters to be shared.  This is applicable to the gathering of information and does not cover widespread sharing of information such as has happened.  My reading of the clauses leave me in no doubt that confidentiality breaches have occurred.  A number of lawyers have concurred with this view in verbal advice.

The allegations in the redacted summaries are truly shocking, if they are true.  In the previous blog I dealt with the first allegation of attempted misappropriation of government funds.

I now look at the second major allegation.  A data breach.

Allegation: Potential Privacy Breach: Witnesses and additionally the Respondent have provided information that supports a potential privacy breach occurred which includes a potential notifiable contravention of the Privacy Act 2020. This is due to providing accidental access to someone’s personal information and then failing to acknowledge/report the breach.

Let us look at the background. 

Chooice (the company where the alleged data breach occurred) was at that stage a joint venture between Ms Colcord and We Are Indigo, aimed at providing an online distribution platform to micro-businesses.  It had experienced extremely rapid growth, with a strong uptake amongst Māori and Pasifika businesses.  It was well understood that the platform was not robust, and Chooice and We Are Indigo were trying to raise investment to address this and other issues.

There were three instances of store owners’ drivers licence IDs being exposed on the Chooice platform.  One of the team working on Chooice identified the data breach and a call was made by Chooice staff to shut the Chooice platform down temporarily.  After review of the cause of the problems, what had been exposed and the risk of further exposure, the Chooice team reinstated the platform.

The Respondent (MACFIE) attempts to override the instruction from the witness, failing to accept a notifiable breach had occurred, then instructs staff to turn the website back on despite no remedy occurring to the breach issue.

The morning after the website was taken down, Pat MacFie asked for the website to be reinstated.   Chooice’s staff had already reinstated the website.  The communication trails seem to make this clear.  They also make clear the cause of the problems.  One can assume the staff were confident that any issues could be managed.  So MacFie’s instruction was ancillary to the actions already being undertaken, as the staff had already reinstated the website. 

The allegations appear to me to be inflammatory, misleading and incorrect on many levels.  They are contradicted in the evidence given in the reports and this evidence is not commented on in John Borland’s write up as it should have been.

John Borland states:

In my professional opinion, consideration should be given on whether this potential breach should be escalated to the Privacy Commissioner.

My understanding is a privacy breach is reportable if it has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to an individual.  There is a requirement to notify the individuals concerned and this was done.  Privacy Breach reporting requirements.

In this case – and I do not have access to all the people and facts – it seems hard to make the leap to serious harm.  And as stated, the 3 individuals were advised. 

It is unclear if reporting the breach was required and if so who’s responsibility was it?  Hindsight review suggests it was not reportable.  Yet the headline statement in the allegation is “a potential notifiable contravention of the Privacy Act 2020”.  

Is John Borland’s interpretation of the breach overreach?  Does he have specific expertise?  Is his pronouncement unprofessional?  My answer to these questions, based on the facts presented, is Yes No Yes.

As I shine a light on each of the allegations in these reports in turn over the next few weeks, will I find each to be equally flakey?  So far it’s two out of two…

  1. The allegation of misappropriation of government funds appears to be a dispute over an unpaid invoice, which was subsequently paid.
  2. The allegation (discussed above) of an inappropriately managed data breach, (it is agreed the data breach happened) appears to be a minor breach, in which the three parties affected were notified, and no harm was caused.  The breach was not notifiable.  The allegations of Pat MacFie inappropriately instructing the techies to reinstate the Chooice site is irrelevant, as the site had already been reinstated by Chooice staff.  Many of the allegations against Pat MacFie are contradicted by the evidence provided.

And may I remind you that We Are Indigo has never seen the full reports, only the redacted versions now being widely circulated.  As such they have been denied the opportunity to fully respond.  What comment they have made in response has not been incorporated in the reports.  Natural justice has been denied.

The reports were prepared by what appears to be a conflicted investigator, who did not declare his prior knowledge.  EY were engaged to review the due diligence process, but the scope was set to exclude conflicts of interest and report content.  They did NOT, as some are claiming, “independently validate and verify” the findings or conclusions of the report.  EY stated that We Are Indigo should be given the opportunity to respond.

There are so many question marks over these reports and their conclusions.  Are they fair and accurate?  Sometimes when something seems so unbelievable, it’s because it is simply not true.

Callaghan – You are the only ones who can fix this.

Admit that the investigator was conflicted.

State unequivocally that the due diligence reports, commissioned under the confidentiality of a government procurement process, should never have been shared around.

Make it clear that you are upset and angry (are you?) at the way the reports continue to be leaked.

Clarify that the EY review was NOT a review of due diligence findings or of the conflicts of interest.

Officially withdraw the due diligence reports, and maybe even apologise for the harm they have caused.

#StandWithManaaki – Time to Man-Up, Callaghan!

Hey, Callaghan Innovation –  what are you thinking?
A guest blog written by my husband, Peter Hall

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been supporting Debra in her campaign to get Callaghan Innovation to act to make things right, as the reports from the due diligence process they undertook on Manaaki / We Are Indigo are increasingly used as a weapon to destroy those businesses, and the livelihoods and reputations of the people involved.

Today I am focusing on the supposed contents of the Due Diligence reports, which late last week were spread even further and more deliberately, from an anonymous gmail address, targeting the networks of the people they are setting out to destroy.

What are the motivations here? Who stands to gain? Is this really about the alleged victims, or is it “just” a Callaghan vendetta (which is how it looks), or maybe there’s a competitor to Manaaki lurking in the wings, pulling the strings?

I say “supposed” contents of the reports deliberately, because I have no way of knowing whether these reports – attached to that anonymous gmail address, and very heavily redacted – are the real deal.  They are on the IsaCorp letterhead (the company of the conflicted investigator, John Borland).  Perhaps Callaghan could confirm that what I have read is correct?  The email, ironically, says that the attachments are “Not for public distribution in any way, shape or form”.

Despite this further breach of confidentiality, further illegal sharing of reports which Callaghan itself even refused to release under an OIA request, the Callaghan Innovation Board continues to sit on the sidelines while the battle to destroy Manaaki and its founders intensifies. 

And so to the widely shared, heavily redacted summary reports. 

My reaction on first reading – this is truly incredible.  Is this a matter for the Serious Fraud Squad?  These are exceptionally strong allegations, and there are so many of them that appear to be serious. 

I then went to have a coffee.  And read the reports again, reflected and made these observations.

  • These allegations just do not sit comfortably with me and my knowledge, in particular, of Andy Hamilton – having had a professional association with him for the past 15 years.  This is not the Andy that I know. 
  • If we focus on the serious allegations made, there is a remarkable similarity across several of the referee statements.  I suspect far too much to be coincidence.  Nagging at the back of my mind are statements from EY, in their review of the process, that the number of referees was increased during the investigation process.  Did the referees collude?  Has the evidence been exaggerated, and possibly even made up?

Let me look at one of the allegations. 

Allegation: Attempted misappropriation of government funds. Multiple witnesses have provided evidence which has alleged the respondent received capital as part of a Government organisation for payment to contractors attempting to initially retain the funds which dishonestly obtained a benefit or advantage.

Was this in any way related to the delayed payment of an invoice to K&J Growth?  The redactions in reports make it impossible to tell for sure.  But as an experienced business person, I do know that invoice payments are quite often delayed, sometimes pending delivery of what was agreed or poor quality work.  One might assume this is even more likely when government funding is being deployed.  What I do know is that in this instance the invoice was paid, albeit belatedly.  However, it is a massive leap to extend an invoice dispute to “Attempted misappropriation of Government funds”.  

A number of other allegations have a similar approach. Emotive, subjective – calculated to outrage and to injure. How many of the other allegations would withstand the light being shone on them?  Perhaps none of them?

We Are Indigo has not seen the full reports.  They have only seen the redacted versions that I have now seen.  As such they have been denied the opportunity to fully respond.  What comment they have made in response has not been incorporated in the reports in any way.  Natural justice has not happened.

The reports were prepared by a conflicted investigator, who had previously worked on behalf of one of the supposedly wronged parties.  He did not declare his prior knowledge.

EY were engaged to review the due diligence process, but the scope was set to exclude conflicts of interest and report content.  They did NOT, as some are claiming, “independently validate and verify” the findings or conclusions of the report. Another example of people stretching the truth, to support their case.

And the redacted summary reports are being ever more widely spread.

Ray Avery says, in a recent social media post under the heading “We Are Indigo it’s going to go Nuclear”, that “The full contents of the report are “headshakingly unbelievable”.  Fair comment, and I actually agree.  And this should raise a red flag for us all – maybe they seem “unbelievable” because that’s what they actually are.  Unbelievable.

There are so many question marks over these reports and their conclusions.  Are they fair and accurate?  Sometimes when something seems so unbelievable, it’s because it is not true.

I can only echo Debra’s statements from her last blog HERE, and add some of my own.

Callaghan – You are the only ones who can fix this.

Admit that the investigator was conflicted.

Admit that a person who had no direct dealings with Indigo or Manaaki inserted himself into the due diligence process, and was subsequently identified in the EY report as someone who should not have been interviewed.

State unequivocally that the due diligence reports, commissioned under the confidentiality of a government procurement process, should never have been shared around other organisations by your then CEO.

Make it clear that you are upset and angry (are you?) at the way the reports continue to be leaked to an ever widening group, in a clear attempt to gather what can only be described as a lynch mob.

Clarify that the EY review was not a review of due diligence findings or of the conflicts of interest – but simply a review of the mechanics of the investigative process.

Officially withdraw the due diligence reports.

Meet with Indigo / Manaaki in good faith, and actually try to find a path to resolution.

Make a clear statement, that on reviewing the reports, you find that many of the allegations cannot be substantiated based on the evidence provided.  (More urgent work for you.  Maybe a new enquiry with reputable investigators?).

And above all, tell us whether you really want these documents to be used to drive Manaaki and Indigo out of business, and to destroy the reputations of its founders.  Because if that is what you actually want, you’re doing a great job of achieving your goals.

So tell us, Callaghan Innovation – your Board and your Executive, what are you REALLY thinking?
And what are you going to DO about all of this?

#StandWithManaaki – Bullying is not okay

A guest blog written by my husband, Peter Hall.

Bullying is not okay – and we are seeing a lot of it in many different guises in the controversy surrounding Manaaki and its founders.

As we know, there is a concerted and relentless mainly social media campaign to bring down Manaaki and the people associated with it.  People like Andy Hamilton and Pat MacFie. A core allegation appears to be “founder bullying”, with the emotive overlay of a vulnerable, female founder.  I have known Andy Hamilton for some fifteen years and never seen anything like this alleged bullying. 

I will make some broad generalisations.  And I hate making generalisations.  Many founders are hard work.  They see things others do not see – and this is often a key ingredient for their success. At times, their passion helps them to be persuasive.  And it also at times leads to conflict and an inability to work well with others – no matter who the others are – funders, staff, suppliers.

What we have with Manaaki is a swirl of some truth, with a dollop of innuendo and outrageous inferences.  Much of this is founded on two due diligence reports, commissioned by Callaghan Innovation, as part of a tender process.  These reports have been circulated widely, in leaks to the media and others (ethically questionable), but only provided in part to Manaaki.  Very hard to counter.  Manaaki as a minimum need to have a right of reply, which is shared as widely as the reports themselves have been.  This is fundamental to natural justice.

Callaghan is a major enabler of the bullying that is happening.  The two due diligence reports were commissioned from an individual/organisation who had a clear conflict of interest.  When this became clear, as a minimum, responsible management would investigate further – test the findings with the accused party – and dig deeper.  The reports have been circulated to a range of external government departments, individuals and non-affected people.  This cannot be right.  They have thrown hand grenades, and sit and watch the war continue with a shoulder shrug. 

From my personal perspective, what of my private and confidential business information is Callaghan  going to circulate and to whom?  Is this a precedent for MBIE and other government entities?             

The Callaghan approach is fundamentally flawed and manifestly unfair.

MBIE has some experience with workplace bullying and gender discrimination at another organisation in the startup ecosystem that it oversees – NZVIF.   In mid-2021, a summary report of an investigation into NZVIF was released.  In August 2021, the then CEO Richard Dellabarca resigned, followed by most of the Board a few months later.  Their annual report shows that very substantial termination payments were made.  There was an earlier report which appeared to be a whitewash, but the groundswell of dissatisfaction prevailed.  I wonder what lessons were learned?  See the attached link NZVIF bullying .

The press has not been blameless in this swirl of information.  In particular, the National Business Review.   In the case of Manaaki and particularly Pat MacFie, we see what appears to be character assassination formed on an incomplete picture and yet more innuendo.  It is hard to see the relevance of something 20+ years in the past, except in a remote tangential way – other than to sling mud.  This is bullying, designed to help destroy the individual and his organisation.   See the link to the NBR article and Pat Macfie’s response.  Form your own opinions.    NBR article     Pat Macfie’s response.

I am a regular subscriber to the NBR.  There are occasional insights that are worth reading.  Recent coverage of the startup innovation sector has been good.  I probably would not have mentioned the Pat MacFie-NBR article but for the fact that it seems to be part of a repeated pattern of destruction aimed at generally younger founders.  I think of past coverage of Jamie Beaton (Crimson), and Jake Millar (Unfiltered),  Always the tall poppies, always picking away at their lifestyle, their past and their foibles, sometimes with catastrophic results.  The relevant articles appear to follow a similar destructive pattern to that in the Pat MacFie article, complete with an inflammatory headline about being haunted by his past. This is not OK.

The swirl of some truth, innuendo and outrageous inferences is not doing anyone any good.  I respectfully submit that Callaghan Innovation, or its MBIE overseers, as the central player in all this, could take actions to either front up with an independent review by a person of substance, or withdraw the reports with a statement that they present an incomplete picture.  There are other solutions. 

Do they have the courage to do what is right?  Or will they be sucked even further into this unpleasant vortex?  And what does our government think?  Do they endorse what is happening?


This is Africa – impressions from Peter

Arrive Kenya. Old airport. None of the plumbing in the toilets work. The button to operate them has been ripped out.

Go through baggage check to the new airport. Smell the new paint. Power points in the restaurant do not work. A cleaner sees us trying to charge devices. She leads me to the disability toilet. The toilet works. As does the power point. Plug everything in. “I watch for you while you eat”. Wonderfully helpful.

New airport Kenya. Two staff for every passenger. Most staff staring into space.

Arrive Rwanda. (Background – plane delayed by three hours. Been traveling 30 hours by then). No tour guide to meet us. We are told “he was here. There is his vehicle”. Our cell phones do not work. 4 or 5 people offer to help. Lend us cellphones. Talk to hotel. Help arrange taxis. After 5 false starts with the Hotel – “our limousine is 30 minutes away. Take a taxi and if you do not have money tell me at reception, I will pay and add it to your room bill”. The number of people looking to help is amazing.

Arrive at the hotel. Armed guards at the gate. Taxi inspected for bombs underneath. Baggage has to go through a scanner. Oh shit – what sort of a country is this?

Those beautiful african smiles everywhere.

The next day traveling through town. Armed policemen everywhere. Driver “there is no crime problem here”. Travelling out of town. Armed policemen in pairs every 5 km or so. Scans before we can go into museums and cultural sites. It gradually dawns on us – the issue is not crime but one of “terrorism”. I use inverted commas as I know there has been a long history of overthrows of government etc. Who is the terrorist and who is not. They seem to swap sides regularly.

Our tour guide can give us detailed malaria statistics but will not acknowledge HIV.

We arrive at a flash hotel. Six staff to meet us. Wonderful.

I go to the gym. Extemely expensive equipment. It has not been calibrated. Eg the cycle tells me my power output is 145 kwh. I know it is about 250 kwh. The TV is carefully placed on the side wall where no one on the equipment can see it.

There is a swimming pool with 2 full time attendants. (Background – it has been raining at 5 minute intervals since lunch time). As I arrive it starts to rain. Chair cushions and towels are removed. Stops raining. Chairs dried and cushions put back on. Starts to rain again. Cushions and towels removed. Ah Africa.

Start the chimpanzee trek. 7 of us plus a guide. There are 15 men standing the looking to offer a porter service. It made me feel sad.

At lunch yesterday I was was approached by a young girl with a baby. (Background I always say no to beggars). I said no. Her look of desolation. I gave her USD 1.50. The look of joy, relief and excitement on her face. She was still dancing as we drove away. I felt both so good and so bad.

Red soil.

We could be in most any country in Africa.

A guest blog from Peter on the cycling part of the trip

A quick debrief – particularly for those who have been here before.

Fantastic weather through out.

And the cycling is all I remembered it to be. One of the finest locations in Europe. World famous climbs and fantastic scenery.

But firstly Don and Gary. They arrived in Bormio fresh from the world age group championships. Gary 2nd again. This time to a Frenchman. Gary, the Frenchman and the Frenchman’s mate broke away from the pelaton on a hill climb 3 km from the start. The pelaton never saw them again. Won by the Frenchman in a sprint finish after a race of constant attacking with the two Frenchmen working together against Gary. Gary disappointed with 2nd – but an awesome effort. He comes home with a giant cup we had to lug all through Italy!

Don came in 18th. Same time as the fellow who took 6th place. Well done to Don who has only ever done fun rides! He was worried about coming last. Also awesome. He is proud of his cup but even more so of a photo of him getting it from a famous cyclist who’s name I cannot remember….

First day in Bormio was up Stelvio. A special treat. One day a year they close Stelvio to all vehicles. Some 10,000 cyclists descend on the surrounding villages and give it a go. A really fun day if you can accept all these super young super fit lycra warriors passing you effortlessly doing 20 km per hour up 10-12% gradients……. men and women…..

Good riding conditions. 16 degrees in the valley. 2 degrees at the top. COLD. No snow. And the signs counting the bends lie. They have removed the final steep ascent to stelvio replacing it with an extra switchback. And they have not renumbered. A typical sly Italian trick. You think you are on the home straight but no….

Gary some 2 hrs. And Don claims to have beaten Kevin’s time… (I look forward to hearing the debate).

No rest for the wicked. The next day was Mortirolo. A classic Giro climb – usually a finish but not always. Neither Don or I made it. Tough. Very tough. Lance Armstrong (when he was still a hero) famously described it as the toughest ride he has done. Still more unfinished cycling business and a good reason to come back.

Still no rest for the wicked. The next day is Gavia from the traditional side. Trip to the start by car. Then up and over and down to Bormio. A 100 meters or so lower than Stelvio. Similar gradients but for me a nicer ride. On the exposed upper reaches a head wind on alternate switches – which means you get blown up the alternate ones.

After three hard days the group opted for a rest day of only 1000 meters of climbing. I decided to do part of Gavia from the Bormio side. A nice quiet day at my own pace.

Accomodation was excellent. A hotel run by a cyclist. 5th generation in the family. Bike room equipped with workshop and bike cleaning bay with stand, running water, brushes etc. And best of all a laundry service for cycling gear done at no extra charge. Deliver by 6, back by 7 the next day. No spin drying. Wonderful. No more washing gear in the shower and draping it around the room trying to get it dry.

Excellent cycling friendly food with great wine. On has to keep life in balance….

But good things come to an end. In this case replaced by even better things.

Back up Stelvio. Down through the legendary 48 bends. Half way down the maybe 25km is a sign saying take care – winding road for the next 3km!!!.
At the bottom lunch. I joined the group for the 70 km trip to Lana. Bike path all the way – alternating river edge and winding through the apple orchards. Magic.

From Lana to Selva Gardena via Bolzano. Bike path from Lana all the way into Bolzano. Bolzano still sucks. We made the mistake of leaving the bike path to look for coffee. Landed in an industrial area. Eventually found the coffee. Hot footed it back to the bike path. Some 40 km of old railway line converted to bike path to the base of the Selva Gardena road. Our own bike tunnels all with their lighting. The Selva Gardena road was some 25km of 4-5% gradient. Once again good riding. But tired riders towards the end.

From Selva Gardina to Cortina. A short ride of 3 passes and 2000 meters of climbing. No one was interested in my offer of 6 passes and 3,500 meters of climbing to get to Cortina. Kevin, Paul and Greg know the latter route well. If I recall correctly it was so tough Kevin and Greg had to stop on pass 5 and fortify themselves with a few sips of Cognac before tackling the final pass. They only got in at 7.00 that night. Only one cognac?

5 days in Cortina. Mountain magic this time. Probably one of the most beautiful sets of mountains in the world. Pink cliffs that soar from the road and touch the sky. Sun rise and sun set the best times to bring out the color. And a huge number of fantastic riding options.

One day Gary decided to head up an unsealed bike path. Excellent condition. Some 30 km later close to Dobbiaco (sp ?) At the top of the pass we switched to the main road. A pleasant ride repeated by Debra the next day on a mountain bike.

The riding – some hard – some easy.
Never boring. And the Gaiu is still there – as hard as it was the first time.

Accomodation was once again excellent. Again 5th generation family. Proprietor who is a cycling fanatic. A huge source of information and recommendations. Laundry service. Food not so good which meant we ate out more.

A revelation I did noy fully appreciate. The mountains are criss crossed by ‘white roads’. 100’s of km of roads and tracks built by the Austrians in the first world was now converted to mountain bike tracks. Enough to make me want to take up mountain biking.

And thanks to Debra for providing car support when needed. Warm clothing at the top of cols etc.

From Cortina we now start wending our way home via Africa. And the rain started today!

For pictures have a look at Debra’s blog…