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Act’s generous donors and its anti Treaty campaign

Written By: - Date published: 9:18 am, March 26th, 2022 - 65 comments
Categories: act, david seymour, racism, treaty settlements, uncategorized - Tags:

This has not had the media attention that it deserves but Act has raised, to use the technical term, a shit load of money recently.

The Electoral Commission reports the following donations were made:

  • Trevor Farmer $100,000
  • Stephen Jennings $50,000
  • Graeme Edwards $100,000
  • Graeme Hart $100,000
  • Lynn Craig Turner $100,000
  • Jenny Gibbs $100,000
  • Rod Dury $100,000
  • Murray Chandler $100,000
  • John Harman $120,000
  • Grant Baker $65,000
  • Michael Thorburn $50,000

That is $985,000 which is a lot of chook raffles.

And the vast majority of this money (all but $35,000) was paid this month between March 1 and March 15

What could have caused this uber generosity from some pretty well healed people?

It may be completely and entirely coincidental but Act has since engaged in some good old fashioned  treaty bashing rhetoric.  It has set up an email harvesting petition.  And David Seymour has even given a speech on the subject.

His speech is something that Winston Peters would be proud of.  Especially this piece:

Over the past forty years there has been a quiet shift from the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal in the way that the Treaty is interpreted. The problem is that this shift is transforming our constitutional underpinnings but has never been subject to public debate.

In fact, many people feel unable to raise their voice on the constitutional future of their country for fear of being branded as racist.

Nevertheless, we are seeing our constitutional settings being transformed from the nation state that a literal reading of the Treaty demands, where all citizens have the ‘same rights and duties,’ to an ethno-state. In this ‘tiriti-centric Aotearoa,’ there are two types or people. Tangata whenua, here by right, and tangata tiriti, here by the grace of whatever the courts and the Waitangi Tribunal think the Treaty means.

Nobody in government has ever come out and asked the simple question: do you think the best way to preserve Māori culture and create equal opportunity is to abandon liberal democracy? Instead, we see a quiet assumption that every aspect of governance in New Zealand should change to a state where there are two baskets of political rights. On more and more boards and councils, some people are appointed based on who their great grandparents were while the rest have to stick with the old system of having elections and winning votes.

While it is true that more recently the Courts have given greater credence to treaty issues this is because the approach previously was to completely ignore the treaty.  And I would challenge Seymour to read the 1987 Lands Case decision and say which part of the decision was wrong.  The essence of the decision was that the Crown had to act act reasonably and in good faith, it had to actively protect Māori interests, it should make informed decisions, it should remedy past grievances but it retained the right to govern.

This is not an attack on liberal democracy, which normally requires that rights under agreements and treaties be observed, this is pure dog whistle politics.

And it is interesting that the funders of this campaign against so called privilege are some of the most privileged people in the country.  I wonder how they feel about their wealth being used in this way.

Clearly the strategy on the right is to soak up NZ First support and make sure they are not in the next Parliament.  And tap into latent grumpiness and turn a few minds at the same time.

But it is getting into stupid territory with Seymour stating that a bottom line for ACT coalition negotiations will be the holding of a referendum on their proposed treaty principles bill.  The effect of this if passed is that article two of the treaty, which promised to preserve to Maori their lands and taonga, would no longer be a treaty principle.  Say goodbye to every treaty right that currently exists.

Liberal democracies where discrimination based on ethnicity is illegal do not require that promises made by the state to the indigenous people in the treaty that forms the basis of government be breached.  This is fatuous nonsense.

Stand by, this is going to get ugly.  And Act has the funds to make it really ugly.

65 comments on “Act’s generous donors and its anti Treaty campaign ”

  1. Peter 1

    It's always interesting when racists don't like being branded as racist. There's probably a t-shirt in that somewhere.

    • DB Brown 1.1

      Perhaps we can call them 'ducks'.

      If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

      • Hongi Ika 1.1.1

        If it smells like a rat it probably is a rat.

      • alwyn 1.1.2

        Are you sure about that being what you want to say?

        If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it is a Right Honourable member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

    • georgecom 1.2

      also always interesting when those with power and privilege become 'concerned' that others others of being given 'privileges' they don't have. But I agree, lets get active to remove privilege. An inheritance tax and a capital gains tax which taxes the transfer of intergenerational wealth and privilege. Look forward to ACT campaigning on those.

  2. higherstandard 2

    [Take the weekend off for spamming with YT clip – Incognito]

  3. Obtrectator 3

    Clarification needed: the Murray Chandler mentioned here is not the well-known chess grandmaster, but a [deleted] of the same name at [deleted].

    • Mike the Lefty 3.1

      I'm glad you pointed that out. I met Murray (briefly) many years ago and he didn't seem that kind of character.

    • Barfly 3.2

      That is interesting to know – I understand that Murray Chandler the Chess Grandmaster had previously donated $35,000 to ACT during the time of the last NACT Government so I had assumed it was him.

        • Obtrectator

          The above link to the Herald story isn't working, but I found it via another route. Not being a habitual Herald reader, I’d missed it first time round.

          Looks like I got it wrong about MC the chess player after all (and his namesake). Chess is not exactly a lucrative profession, and I naturally assumed he was unlikely to have had that much dosh to give to political causes.

          I retract the original comment, and would delete it altogether if that were possible.

          • Incognito

            I’ve deleted the offending bits that could link to the wrong name-sake and potentially upset them.

            We don’t routinely delete errors of fact and prefer correction/retraction (with apology, if warranted) unless there are potential legal risks associated with them.

          • Craig H

            Other than the top 10-20 players (or so) in the world, playing chess isn't especially lucrative, but there's also money in other areas e.g. publishing and training (and more recently, Twitch, Youtube and other similar options). Murray is one of the founders and owners of Gambit Books which is one of the biggest chess publishers going.

    • Obtrectator 3.3

      Thank you mods. Fools rush in ….

  4. Belladonna 4

    Demanding a referendum is a 'safe' bottom line. The government can always feel free to ignore the results. It's much more tricky when small parties have absolute demands for policy as a bottom line (Peters was the master of this).

    I also feel that Seymour has a point about being called racist for wanting to debate whether Maori co-governance (as proposed for 3 Waters) is the way we want our democracy to operate.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    All just shadow-play. Seymour is simply demonstrating his solidarity with the wokesters & the mainstreamers: defaulting into references to the Treaty principles whilst always being ever so careful to avoid specifying what those principles actually are.

    So if he's trying to cultivate the racist vote, the racists, wokesters & mainstreamers have a common interest in collective evasion of the guts of the issue. On that basis his strategy has the virtue of simplicity and can readily be seen as featuring a hefty consensus.

    As long as his treaty principles bill remains a pipedream, all good. However if he gets lawyers to actually create the thing, all sorts of shit will go down. The principles will have to be articulated. Quelle horreur!!

  6. Seymour & Winston are always targeting the fringe voters to try and get themselves over the 5% threshold. Seymour has the security of the Gold Plated Tory Seat in Epsom, Auckland.

  7. No political party in New Zealand, including the Māori themselves, has recognised or proposed an alternative and more feasible path, which is to put aside the treaty debate and focus energy and funding on how Māori can catch up with other races in education. problem. Starting from the early childhood education of Maori children, help them learn how to consciously study hard and make progress while adhering to their traditional culture. At the same time, more substantive support should be given to Maori communities and families, including employment training, gambling and drug rehabilitation counseling, etc. Everything the government has done in the past has cost taxpayers a lot of money, established countless foundations and committees, and formulated many flashy plans that ultimately failed. Government, society and Māori political parties, leaders and community leaders should realise that we will never be able to get out of a historical dead end without promoting real Māori knowledge and skills, starting from the youth generation, for the advancement of Māori as a whole.

    • aom 7.1

      You say, "No political party in New Zealand, including the Māori themselves, has recognised or proposed an alternative and more feasible path, which is to put aside the treaty debate and focus energy and funding on how Māori can catch up with other races in education." Did it occur to you that you have just advocated for the same and existing failed 'solutions' of the past. You have compounded your problem with including, your presumed assumption, "including the Māori themselves" which is a pretty extravagant and disingenuous claim.

      Exception has to be taken to the implied suggestion that Maori education initiatives, "…. has cost taxpayers a lot of money…." To prove your point, can you establish that kohanga reo which answers your dire assumptions in more expensive that what is otherwise available? Doubt it!

      Why do you think that there are attempts to implement co-governance policies in the face of the "all NZers are equal" screams from the self-entitled who, when one scratches the surface, appear to be very Eurocentric and possibly bordering on racist if not demonstrably so?

  8. Mike the Lefty 8

    It could be dangerous in one sense.

    ACT could reduce the referendum to a ridiculously simple question: like "Do you believe Maori and non-Maori should be equal partners…" and then play the great force of reason by saying: How could you possibly vote against such a question? And if the result was resounding "yes" which it probably would be then they could in future claim that any legislation that gave Maori some sovereign right over anything was contrary to popular opinion.

    Of course the whole question of sovereign rights, equal partnerships and redress of historical injustices is anything but simple but ACT would try to convince the country that it was basic as a simple yes or no.

    It is playing on the suspicions by some hardcore elements of the non-Maori population that the indigenous inhabitants are just waiting for the chance to take over and expel them from New Zealand. It is nefarious populism.

    PS. I was surprised that Don Brash was not on the list of donors. His Hobsons Choice "movement" would love this: but perhaps he is not the force he used to be.

    • Hongi Ika 8.1

      Perhaps he is helping ACT with it's Strategic Planning ?

    • Anne 8.2

      You've hit the nail on the head Mike the Lefty. That is exactly what Seymour and Co. are doing… trying to reduce a debate on social cohesion to an absurdly simplistic level. Unfortunately it will work for the less informed and more gullible members of society.

      The so-called "Reference on Co-Governance" petition (see link in post) is scurrilous crap.

      They are claiming" our democracy is quietly being dismantled. We're being transformed from a nation state where everyone has the same rights, to an ethno – state where your rights depend on who your grandparents were.

      Oh the irony! That is exactly what the government is trying to rectify. If your grand-daddy was white (and rich) and held power of some sort over the country's minions, then your future was also bright. But if you were brown and poor or even white and poor then your future was decidedly opaque.

      Coming from a party that openly flirts with white supremacists, gun nuts and the loopy anti-everything brigade, I find it obscene they are now trying to hoodwink the populace into believing they are pro-democracy. Seymour's claims there have been no debates are blatant lies and it behoves the government to actively expose his claims for what they are – absolute drivel.

      • Mike the Lefty 8.2.1

        "Unfortunately it will work for the less informed and more gullible members of society"

        That is the strategy of the political right all along. They want the people to be kept ignorant because ignorant people are easier to control and manipulate. The thing they fear most is that people will UNDERSTAND what is happening because once people start understanding the political right loses its grip on the population.

        You never hear the political right talking about a "knowledge economy".

      • Hongi Ika 8.2.2

        Maori vs Non Maori

    • barry 8.3

      ACT could reduce the referendum to a ridiculously simple question: like "Do you believe Maori and non-Maori should be equal partners…"

      Then the strategy should be to vote yes, and point out that it implies that 50% of MPs, judges, CEOs etc should be Māori.

      • Mike the Lefty 8.3.1

        At first glance that would appear to be relatively easy to implement. But then you might get disagreements based on race: Who decides if someone is Maori or sufficiently Maori, etc, etc.

        All of which would play into the hands of ACT because it would divide people, and the political right thrives on dividing people.

        That is what ACT's proposed referendum is designed to do: divide New Zealanders so that ACT can offer its services as some kind of great "peacemaker".

        When people continually try to portray themselves as the force of reason and restraint I always grow suspicious.

        • Hongi Ika

          The Old Divide and Rule Strategy ?

        • Descendant Of Smith

          Maori have pretty much already decided who is Maori in this country. Ether you whakapapa or you don't – as it should be.

          God forbid we let pakeha anywhere near deciding who – that is how we end up with ridiculous situations like in Canada with a parent being an Inuit because of a percentage of blood and their children not.

          It is a common sense approach that is perfectly sensible for both those raised culturally Maori and those who are not but who may or may not at some point in the future like to discover and understand more about their roots.

          The notion about percentages, who decides etc is just a racist way of pretending we are all the same and there are no Maori left – a continuing attempt at assimilation.

          Just like the debate on Wanganui and Whanganui – who decides Maori do it is their language and their culture.

  9. Bazza64 9

    I think Seymour's position is more anti co-governance which this government has quietly tried to slip in thinking no-one would notice. 50% control of the country to 15% of the population, many who have European & Maori ancestry (Even David Seymour may qualify as Maori based on his Ngai Tahu ancestry)

    There are many large Maori corporates who could & probably do donate to the Maori party & Labour (I guess they also count as priveleged ? Or maybe they operate sound businesses, work hard & manage their funds prudently – good on them I say).

    On what basis can you run a country where people of a certain race have more rights than others ? Sounds like apartheid South Africa to me.

    But hey maybe its a good idea, maybe the UK should give special status to people of Celtic/Anglo Saxon origin, being the first inhabitants. To all the other recent immigrants they will have to just suck it up.

    What about other races in NZ ? Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern – most of them working their arses off to make ends meet, who will now be penalised for wanting to live in a country where they can hopefully prosper & know that our government will be a government for "all the people" – whatever happened to that ? These other races weren't involved in the "colonisation" (Do they get an exemption for that ?)

    I mean what could go wrong ? Our government is a joke, made so many promises they can't even deliver on. They probably have no real idea how co-governance would even work on a practical basis.

    Funny that people who oppose a government controlled by a minority race get called racist. The irony !

    • Barfly 9.2

      Hey Bazza – do you realise that when the treaty was signed Maori were 40 times the population of Europeans in New Zealand. Pretty dam generous partnership of them wouldn't you say?

      And yet here you are bitching and misrepresenting saying

      "50% control of the country to 15% of the population,"

    • Descendant Of Smith 9.3

      "quietly tried to slip in thinking no-one would notice"

      It's been pretty well signposted and stated. I've even heard speeches about it. No quietly slipped in at all. Even most of the right-wingers who post on here noticed it.

      Personally I'd be far more concerned that co-governance means worse outcomes and a continuing grasp of resources by the government as is happening in Canada.

      I continue to be concerned here in New Zealand about pakeha in decision making positions immersing themselves too much in Maori culture leading towards them simply making decisions for Maori because they are now learned in the culture. What we should be doing is ensuring that Maori culture flourishes for Maori ensuring that they can bring their own cultural values to the table. Tamati Kruger in my view seems a particularly good proponent of this sort of approach. What does it mean to be Tuhoe?

      Meanwhile in Canada.

      "In fact, it would be difficult to conceive of a more insidious form of cultural assimilation than co-management as currently practiced in northern Canada."


  10. Reality 10

    It is hard to understand how the very wealthy and privileged so enjoy, fund and support policies that make it so much harder for those who are not wealthy. Any answers to that question?

    • Blazer 10.1

      Paying pennies on the dollar for public assets is the name of the game…privatising Govt business…Alan Gibbs was basicly gifted a 5% share in Telecom for 50k when the yanks bought it(Kiwishare/Fay got the other 5%)

      That 5% stake became worth over $200 ,000,000..good work ,if you can get it.

      Hart also a big beneficiary .Purchasing the Govt Printing Office for 2/6 catapulted him into…the BIGTIME.

    • Craig H 10.2

      Basically, free (or cheap) universal services and progressive taxation (the Scandinavian model) doesn't benefit their pockets as much as flat taxation and targeted services.

  11. Ed1 11

    I don't recognise all of them. Jenny Gibbs is the wife of Alan Gibbs, but perhaps just as well known for her art philanthropy. I think of Graeme Hart as a New Zealand oligarch – he successfully packaged up a lot of money from neo-liberalism; Rod Dury from Xero; Trevor Farmer on the Rich List for Property, Stephen Jennings made a fortune in Russia and has made that larger in Kenya; John HArman – former Surgeon, now property developer. Who are the others?

  12. woodart 12

    dont be all deep and meaningfull about this. seymour has seen his numbers plunge now the nats have a man in charge? he needs to whistle whatever dogs he can, and good old fashioned mauwre bashing always gets the rich old white men letting the moths fly. who can remember louis crimp ?

    • Hongi Ika 12.1

      Maori bashing is always a vote winner, Winston tried it a few Elections ago wanting to abolish the Maaori Seats however didn't get him any additional support.

  13. Since one Rod Jury is the founder and recent CEO of Xero a lot of organisations using Xero will have to ask themselves whether to continue or not. Indeed they may well have a TOW policy and even one I am involved with simply states it is Te Ao Maori.

  14. Patricia Bremner 14

    These people realise National has no chance of being elected without a "Friend".

    That is what the JK "cup of tea" was for… establishing a partner party friend.

  15. UncookedSelachimorpha 15

    Another excellent illustration of why all political donations should be banned. Why let rich people use wealth to distort society through politics like this? Unfortunately both Labour and National appear to love gifts and support from rich people and have no appetite to fix this massive threat to our democracy.

    • Mike the Lefty 15.1

      The reality is that for political parties to function and wage campaigns they have to have money and the best way to get the most money is to have their supporters donate it to them.

      It sounds good in theory, no donations so every political party is on equal terms. But what would the alternative ways of raising money be?

      It could be state funding, but there seems to be little appetite for this in the electorate.

      If political parties had to raise all their own money then it would necessarily involve some commercial activities, because a political party can't run an election campaign on subscriptions.

      So political parties might get involved in things as merchandising, property investment and rentals, selling bonds, etc. In my mind a lot more dodgy than sausage sizzles and raffles and I would argue that this constitutes a bigger threat to our democracy than does donations.

      So unless you fully state fund political parties you can't justifiably prevent them from receiving donations. Of course that doesn't mean the rules on donations and declarations are perfect – it seems quite easy to get around them and the Electoral Commission are notoriously reluctant to prosecute anyone.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 15.1.1

        There are good alternatives.

        Obviously, state funding, which I think is a good idea (can be based on number of signed up members). Yes, a lack of appetite, but there are good reasons which I think people could easily understand (i.e. benefit of not letting politics be owned by the wealthy).

        The other option which I really like – a maximum, low, annual membership fee, say $100. This way you can raise a large amount of money, but only in proportion to the number of people who join your party – which is entirely democratic.

  16. thebiggestfish7 16

    I don't agree with Mr Seymour's policy at all. But to call this racist is the real dog whistling and just a bit of a joke. This sort of nonsense doesn't help any sort of proper discussion and debate on the issue. Not surprising given the author is someone who I doubt has experienced any racism in his life as he is from the golden generation of the old, pale and stale……..

    • Peter 16.1

      What doesn't help any sort of proper discussion and debate on the issue is those who claim to not be racist and want an intellectual debate, investing their energy in rousing and harnessing racists.

    • Hongi Ika 16.2

      As far as I am concerned Seymour Guns is a little racist Ngapuhi c*** ?

    • Incognito 16.3

      If only you’d left your assumptions about the Author at the door. Play the man, not the ball – rip apart their comments and tear down their arguments all you like – but don’t do veiled attacks on Authors here.

  17. Ad 17

    The pressing question is whether Labour can respond by getting its ow campaign war chest in order.

    Back in Helen Clark's day the Auckland Labour scene could generate pretty cool fundraisers for such who were inclined for $500 – $5000 of an evening.

    Indeed back when Sir Bob Harvey and Mike Williams were Labour's 'bundler' ATM machines, there was real capacity to fight large-scale hard right campaigns with Labour campaigns of their own.

    Controversy ensued of course, but they were small fights compared to the actual campaign wins.

    • Sanctuary 17.1

      We live in a political system in which a fundraiser where the PM takes light hearted Zoom questions from the public and in public for $25 a pop is a scandal in the MSM, but having a far-right astro-turf party funded by local plutocrats is totally normal and OK.

      People quickly forget how down and out Labour were before Ardern, staring down the barrel of a fourth straight loss, broke and marginalised by a liberal right wing MSM establishment that were perfectly satisfied with the vast inequalities baked into John Key's state of neglect.

      If Labour had have had half a brain they would have spent some of Ardern's early political capital on levelling the funding playing field and and got through campaign funding reform and state funding of political parties three years ago.

    • Craig H 17.2

      Labour does OK with donations, especially in election years – not as well as National but usually better than anyone else.

  18. Barfly 18

    I am telling everyone here this …..at some point in the future we will be inevitably be cursed with a National and ACT Government please try to to remember the names of these big ACT donors for I am certain in my belief that you will see most if not all of those who do not have New Zealand Honours be awarded them by a future National and ACT government for their services to the……… (you fill in the dots)

  19. NZSage 19

    I'm sure all those millionaires and billionaires have the interest of the ordinary Kiwi at heart.

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