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Dodgy Niue deal back in the headlines

Written By: - Date published: 11:03 am, May 21st, 2016 - 199 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, national, spin - Tags: , ,

Remember the Niue deal? Bryan Gould – Niue contract damaging to Govt reputation

And then, we have the saga of the political donation and the Matavai resort on Niue. The facts can be simply stated. The owner of Scenic Hotels, Earl Hagaman – a well-known and perennial donor to the National party – made a donation of over $100,000 to the National party, and a month later his company was awarded the valuable contract to manage a resort on Niue.

The contract turned out to be even more valuable than had appeared at first sight when $7.5 million of taxpayer-funded aid money was paid to Scenic Hotels to upgrade the resort.

In any other country, and especially in those where such deals are commonplace, no one would be in any doubt as to what had really happened. In New Zealand, however, we are naively inclined to accept the blank-eyed, slack-mouthed assurances that it was all a coincidence and that nothing untoward had happened.

Andrew Little called for the Auditor General to look in to the Nats’ process in awarding the contract, saying the deal “stinks to high heaven”. The hotel owners decided to try and embarrass Little, but he called their bluff and the deadline passed yesterday – Andrew Little refusing to apologise over his comments about a Niue resort deal

Little looks set to face defamation proceedings after ignoring an ultimatum and failing to apologise to the Hagamans.

In a statement from Lani Hagaman she said she would “see Mr Little in court” after he failed to retract and apologise his comments that a Niue resort deal they were awarded “stunk to high heaven”.

Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.

He will address the issues with the Hagamans once the Auditor-General has dealt with his request, either by “concluding an investigation or declining to conduct one” regarding a Niue resort deal.

Little is doing his job, and I’m pretty sure this vexatious lawsuit will be laughed out of court. Good of the hotel to keep the Nats’ dodgy deal in the headlines though.

199 comments on “Dodgy Niue deal back in the headlines”

  1. Et Tu Brute 1

    Last time I checked there is no legal case or constitutional right for MPs or leader of the opposition to defame people in public outside of the protection of parliament. Therefore it is irrelevant that he is an MP or Labour leader. The case will be decided on the facts.

    • Wainwright 1.1

      Who said there was? No one. So this is just reflexive rightwing spinning.

      • Et Tu Brute 1.1.1

        Little’s defense appears to be his position:

        “Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.”

        • mickysavage

          He does and I would be concerned if I lived in a country where opposition politicians were afraid to question the Government because the Government’s wealthy friends may sue them.

          • The New Student

            For sure

          • Chuck

            Ask questions yes…ask for the AG to look into it. But not to defame people (no matter who they are) on the basis of “it stinks to high heaven”.

            Huge difference…

            • b waghorn

              “It stinks to high heaven ” is hardly defaming, if he’d said” the hagamens were corrupt national stooges buying favours ” that would be defamation ,
              Just to be clear I am in know way implieing that they are ” corrupt national stooges buying political favours”

              • Raff

                Yes, very clear – the Hagamen are NOT corrupt national stooges buying political favours. Deserves repeating. Loud and clear.

            • Whateva next?

              It does not make sense to put in a tender for something and give a significant donation at the same time, if you want the process to have integrity? Common sense really.

              • Mosa

                With this action against Little and the 101,000 donation to the National party it feels like they have had advice from Keys henchmen on making an example of Little in court.
                That amount of money buys you special privileges and as we have seen time and again the Nats reward their donors like in this case with the tender process
                Why donate such a large amount of money not to expect help from the governing party after all they backed the Sky city convention center no questions asked.
                With this court action its almost like because they have influence they are above the law and due proccess should not apply and how dare Andrew Little question this arrangement.
                Will wait for the Auditor Generals decision with interest.

          • Et Tu Brute

            I don’t want to live in a country where MPs in a position of privilege can slur me for a potential poll bump. A few years ago I was the subject of a slur from a candidate which was both factually incorrect and I didn’t have their platform to respond. Because of their positions of power I believe politicians have to be held to the same standard, if not higher, as the general public in regards to defamation and telling the truth about individuals.

            • mickysavage

              He was responding to the Government’s and in particular McCully’s habit of giving benefits to supporters.

            • joe90

              MPs in a position of privilege can slur me for a potential poll bump.

              Jennifer Johnston, Natasha Fuller, Adam Feeley, and Bronwen Pullar know all about living in a country where MPs in a position of privilege can slur people with apparent impunity.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Am I correct in thinking that you vote for the Cameron Slater party? Because if you did happen to vote National you’d be a complete and utter hypocrite, eh.

            • whateva next?

              Andrew Little is holding Murray Mc Cully to account, and I am relieved, someone had to do it for the people who that pay his wages and give him the power, his boss isn’t going to

          • Kelly-Ned

            Well said

          • North

            Beautifully pithy response @ mickeysavage

        • Greg

          If something is rotten, it stinks.
          And National are rotten to the core, even avoiding animal cruelty charges with sending 1100 pregnant ewe’s to a hot sandy desert to appease and bribe a rich Saudi businessman, whom it turns out has little royal connections to help get a FTA.
          3/4s of the lambs suffocated to death in a sandstorm.

  2. Pat 2

    I guess we will find out if and when it goes to court

  3. Chuck 3

    I do commend you on always having the view the glass is half full compared to half empty.

    It won’t save Little…in a angry fit of rage he transgressed from asking for the AG to look into it (no problem with that) to “stinks to high heaven”.

    Little will properly grovel to the Hagamans on the doorstep of the court to save himself. I hope he does not and tries to defend it all the way…it will teach him a valuable lesson.

    The court case will be in election year, the sight of Jacinda’s dad on the witness stand testifying against Andrew Little will be priceless!

    • Natwatch 3.1

      > in a angry fit of rage he transgressed from asking for the AG to look into it
      > (no problem with that) to “stinks to high heaven”.

      Fake me some more outrage Chuck , go on.

      > Little will properly grovel to the Hagamans on the doorstep of the court to save himself.

      If he was planing to do that he would have apologised before the deadline. Idiot.

      • Chuck 3.1.1

        “If he was planing to do that he would have apologised before the deadline. Idiot.”

        Little is pinning his hopes on the AG finding something…anything that may help him get out of this. That is why Natwatch…he is buying time for his apology…now go back to sleep.

        • joe90

          the AG finding something

          Yes, the AG is the only one who’s able to find something.

      • srylands 3.1.2

        “If he was planing to do that he would have apologised before the deadline. Idiot.”

        Oh really? I will come back to you when Little does exactly that. If you are sure, I would be happy to take $1,000 as a wager.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Too funny. If Little “apologises” I hope it takes the form of “I apologise for any offence”, which translates in NZ as “you weak minded sook, I pity the state of your mind”.

          What he won’t be apologising for is the fact that this deal stinks to high heaven. That is axiomatic: the National Party is involved.

          The Hagamans don’t have a case: the fact that you “think” they do says something about you, S Rylands.

        • mikes

          I’ll happily take you up on that srylands. I accept the wager of $1000. Do you accept?

    • joe90 3.2

      witness stand testifying

      You’re not in tv land Chuckles, you’re in Aotearoa where we have a witness box and we give evidence.

      • Et Tu Brute 3.2.1

        You miss the central point.

        Andrew Little will probably lose, or be forced to settle on the steps of court. He will also face the prospect of the father of a front bench MP giving evidence. It isn’t going to go well for him.

        • joe90

          He will also face the prospect of the father of a front bench MP giving evidence.

          So we’ll find out if the board awarding the contract was made aware of the donation or received any ministerial advice about a preferred tender. All good by me.

          • Kelly-Ned

            Actually – I doubt if there will be a paper trail. A nod and a wink would be all it would take.

        • Keith

          So its best we just tug our forelocks to Nationals wealthy donors, who through no fault of their own just happen upon subsantial taxpayer funded contracts, and live happily ever after on valium?

          Question the rich Andrew and see how revolting they are!

        • seeker

          @Et Tu Brute @11.34am

          Do you barbecue or soiree with the Hagemans by any chance? And does Chuck join you from time to time?

          The reason I ask is because this whole dodgy issue (to reasonable people that is) appears to be very personal , and, almost emotive to you.

      • Chuck 3.2.2

        Why thanks joe90 for clearing that up!

    • whateva next? 3.3

      you are sounding desperate, and you forget we don’t live in your weird world where this stuff is OK, IT IS NOT!

  4. Enough is Enough 4

    It is certainly a novel defense which if accepted by the court will makes politics a much more grubby place in the future

  5. Richardrawshark 5

    Surely you jest, you must know why Hagaman is doing this?

    Simple stuff,

    Hagaman threatens little, gains news coverage, a vain ploy to cause a little breathing space as the government battles three issues or more at once. If this was war, National are surrounded and fighting is on all fronts.

    He knows he will lose in court, if he wins that’s a bonus, and he can easily swallow the legal costs. Can Labour cover multiple court cases, careful? Businesses can also bankrupt you with multiple litigations. Surprises me they don’t attempt this avenue more often.

    Anyways, it’s nothing but an attempt to divert attention give it no traction, no comment nothing.

    • Et Tu Brute 5.1

      So you seriously think the Hagaman’s would risk their money and reputation on behalf of National? This case will cost them a pretty penny or two and if they lose they lose more than their money. In the eyes of the general public, though not the law, it will almost be the same as being found guilty. Andrew Little would be vindicated. If this was a Public Relations exercise they would have thrown a few punches, called Andrew Little some names and donate more to National next election. Then they would have got on with life.

      • mickysavage 5.1.1

        The Hagamans would not blink at the money required. After all they gave National $101k. This suggests they have money in abundance and very poor taste.

        • Rosie

          “…………and very poor taste.” I know. Check out the toupe.

          • D'Esterre

            Rosie: ” Check out the toupe.”

            Saw a recent pic of him. That toupe looks as if it’s been cut from one of those 1970s brown shagpile carpets. Jeeze it looks awful, doesn’t it?

            • Rosie

              I think it is more like a non descript taxidermied small animal…………….who then had an accident with a packet of hair dye?

              • D'Esterre

                Rosie: ” more like a non descript taxidermied small animal……”

                Ha! Whichever it is, dead rat or shagpile, it makes him look like Sideshow Bob, don’t you think?

        • Richard Christie

          They didn’t give Nats $101K, they invested it.

          • ropata

            for a $7.5m+ return.
            capitalism is great

            • Jack Ramaka

              Very good ROI thats what the game is about just look at the deals Fay Richwhite, Gibbs and Co did with the Governments of the day National and Labour, it was money for jam, even a blind man could have profited from those deals.

      • Richardrawshark 5.1.2

        Quote from Earl and Lani Hagaman

        “While Mr Little may be entitled to call for an investigation there is a correct process in which to do this. In my opinion a public flogging is not the correct process.”

        So he is taking Little to court for his opinion on how Little um raised the issue.

        Gee these rich toffs have thin skin. Grow a pair you old fucking fart.

        If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, has a long tail, I’m pretty sure there is no law yet that says I can’t declare. ” It looks like a dead rat “

        • Rosie

          Yes, lols, they contradict themselves right from the outset. In fact a few of their quotes demonstrate they are a bit confused about the positioning of the goalposts.

          The court case, if it eventuates, may end up embarrassing them if this statement is anything to go by.

        • Sabine

          it seems that this Gentleman and his Lady do protest much?

  6. Gabby 6

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Haggy Way of Doing Business.

  7. Dialey 7

    Good on Little for not backing down. Anyone who thinks that a businessman pays $101,000 to a political party without expecting payback, in perks or favours, is delusional. If it sounds like a dirty deal, looks like a dirty deal and results in a nice profitable outcome for the donor, then in all likelihood it is a dirty deal.

    • Enough is Enough 7.1

      Why then is Little not claiming Truth as his defense?

      • joe90 7.1.1

        Why then is Little not claiming Truth as his defense?

        Little’s in court already, my, that was quick.

      • Naki man 7.1.2

        “Why then is Little not claiming Truth as his defense?”
        Good point. There would be no defamation if his implied corruption was true. He knows he cant prove something that isnt true.
        Angry Andy lost the plot and used his bully boy tactics from his union thug days.
        Is this the best labour can do.

      • Psycho Milt 7.1.3

        Why then is Little not claiming Truth as his defense?

        What “Truth” do you imagine being claimed in this case? Because the “Truth” about whether this deal “stinks to high heaven” or not is a matter of opinion.

    • Jack Ramaka 7.2

      Very good ROI thats what the game is about just look at the deals Fay Richwhite, Gibbs and Co did with the Governments of the day National and Labour, it was money for jam, even a blind man could have profited from those deals.

  8. Turandot 8

    Indeed, I applaud Andrew Little for not backing down on this one. He was questioning the deal as is his constitutional right and even duty. Probably they misjudged Little hoping that he would capitulate. It keeps this unsavoury deal in the news and Little has the guts to stand up to the threat.

  9. North 9

    He doesn’t need to you fool. There is a measure of privilege in relation to matters of public interest / constitutional significance.

  10. Wainwright 10

    Total victory for Little. Make it clear that this government only works for the richest of the rich who think they can use the courts to shut down criticism. Hagamans are only going to make themselves look like total idiots just like Colin Craig.

  11. Sabine 11

    oh this is going to be good fun.
    i like Andrew Little. He seems to be a good man. Very sturdy and steady on his feet.

    • Indeed, Sabine. He has character, spine and a functioning moral compass. He’s going to be a very good Prime Minister.

      • Words 11.1.1

        I think so too TRP

        • Gangnam Style

          A few months ago I was talking politics with a work mate & they said they didn’t even know who the leader of Labour was, which was probably quite wide spread. I dare say NZrs are aware who the Labour leader is now!

          I like Little too, not flash but steady as.

          Hagamans, casino owners, hiding money from ex-wives in trusts, now their lives are out in the open to scrutiny, are they up to it?

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.2

        Little could be a reasonable centrist PM, but he has to win first in 2017 because he won’t be getting a second shot in 2020.

        • Sabine

          why don’t we just wait and see.

          • Colonial Viper

            Fair enough, although I’m 90% sure of this scenario as Grant Robertson has got the next leadership challenge sewn up tighter than a top which is 2 sizes too small.

            • Sabine

              you really should stop your obsession with Grant Robertson, mate. It sounds like you have a bro crush?

              I would much rather keep Mr. Twyford in your view.

  12. Richardrawshark 12

    What I do fear is that National will gain 3 more years, they are already using the Herald to election AKA Bennets piece in politics today and on MSN.

    That the majority of the country is feeling the benefits of a building boom in chch and now Auckland and all those builders electicians etc are riding the wave of immigration prosperity.

    and who cares if chucking a few minimum wage people out on the streets is the cost of all those new jobs they have booked up.

    We are screwed, it dawned on me last night and it’s all a massive Ponzi scheme really, or wealth at the expense of the creation of a proper poor.

    So hagaman, he’s the last of Labours worries right now, and if key overrides Bill and does drop taxes, all those tradies well 3 more years boys.

    and you know what, I am lucky, real lucky, I can sell up and leave. Thank god.

  13. Katipo 13

    Early Hagaman seems to be cut from the same thin-skinned cloth as Donald Trump or the church of scientology. Entitled wealthy bullies, quick to set their lawyers onto anyone who challenges them.

    • Pat 13.1

      “Entitled wealthy bullies, quick to set their lawyers onto anyone who challenges them.”

      quick TO THREATEN legal action…..Trump famous for mouthing off and not following through….lets see how far this goes.

  14. In Vino 14

    As a nit-picking teacher of language, I cannot see that “It stinks to high heaven” (referring to a deal procedure) can be conclusively proven to be a personal attack on any one particular party to that deal… Little could argue that the criticism applies more to the Government that followed the procedure rather than the ‘entrepreneurs’ who instinctively acted to take advantage of it. I think it quite likely to be laughed out of court unless statements can be found that refer directly and personally to the aggrieved party. Or am I wrong?

    Is not the offence in the mind of the beholder in this case? I am inclined to think, ‘If the cap fits, wear it.’ But I do not see that Little has directly slandered anyone.

    • b waghorn 14.1

      That’s the way I see it to.

    • Chuck 14.2

      Defamation; what are the elements of a defamation claim?

      Classically, there are three elements a plaintiff needs to prove:

      1/ The publication of a statement – Which is not in doubt.
      2/ which identifies the plaintiff – Which is not in doubt
      3/ contains defamatory meanings about them – Which is up to the court to decide.

      And in recent times a fourth element: “minimum threshold of seriousness” in other words can it be regarded to have caused a serious degree of harm to the plaintiff’s reputation.

      Which based on the views of the marjortity of people on this blog the 4th element has been meet..(Hagamans made the donation in order to receive the contract – a bride). Better hope the Judge does not read TS!!

      • Psych nurse 14.2.1

        I think Earl Hagamans had enough brides.

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          I wonder if the corrupt trash* knows about the Streisand Effect.

          *if you don’t want to be thought of as corrupt trash, not donating to the corrupt trash party is a good start.

        • Chuck

          Haha yep…bribe not bride!!

          • In Vino

            Chuck, my whole point is that the plaintiff has NOT been clearly identified. A procedure does not necessarily besmirch all those involved. So your second element is not beyond doubt, and a good number seem to agree with me.

            I can only say that your unbridled optimism is refreshing …

      • Ross 14.2.2

        which identifies the plaintiff – Which is not in doubt

        Actually it is, unless you can produce comments from Little talking about the plaintiff.

        Hagamans made the donation in order to receive the contract

        That might be the perception but of course the Hagamans didn’t award themselves the contract. You don’t seem to understand that another party awarded the contract.

        • Chuck



          Andrew Little
          Leader of the Opposition

          “It is why I have today written to the Auditor-General asking her to investigate whether Earl Hagaman – who was the largest living financial donor to the National Party – giving money to the party at the same time his company was tendering for the Niue contract was above board.” etc…

          • Hanswurst

            There’s no way that can be construed as defamation. The timeline raises a question, and Little is obliged to ask it once it comes to his attention. If Hagaman has a problem, he should sheet it hole to the government, which has a duty to avoid all perception of a conflict of interest.

            • Chuck

              I agree 100% that Little is obliged to ask for it to be looked into.

              If that was all Little did, we would not be having this debate.

              However by saying “it stinks to high heaven” implies wrong doing by the parties involved…which includes the Hagamans, the trustees, the hotel board, and the minister / Govt.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Oh noes! Bush lawyer in self-aggrandising clusterfuck!

              • Hanswurst

                Absolute rubbish. It does stink to high heaven. Whether that is because the government farted or just because it happened to be boiling millions of dollars worth of cabbage in the flat next door to where the National party was receiving a delivery of hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpasteruised Stilton cheese remains to be seen.

                • Sabine

                  please leave stilton out of this.

                  value metrics cheese was delivered.

                • Chuck

                  I am sure Andrew Little would welcome you with open arms into his legal team with that novel approach to his defamation defense!

                  Here is why Little is in the gun.

                  Is there a difference between saying something directly, and merely suggesting or implying it?

                  If the ordinary person reading or hearing the statement would naturally infer or interpret a defamatory meaning, it doesn’t make a difference whether an accusation was said or written directly, or was merely implied, or where certain things are left unsaid but readers are able to connect the dots.

                  • Hanswurst

                    It’s not a novel approach. There is no implication about the Hagamans in Little’s statement. I am an ordinary person and have heard his statement. You are spinning. Quite bizarrely.

                  • Richardrawshark

                    Bla bla Chuck,

                    John Key defames Little and Labour all the time, then Bill calls NZ workers useless and lazy, Judith reckoned some judge in Canada got it wrong, Paula well she just comes out and totally exposes two benificieries to the full horror of the nation in the media, calling them bludgers and got censured through the courts for it and arrogantly declares the courts wrong as minister she can do what she fkn pleases….

                    Then you turn up like a doorknob bleating labour questions a 101k donation which gave back 17Million in tax payer money.

                    I hope that explains my next words

                    Starts with f and ends in off.

                    I hope you see how stupid you look backing National on the subject of slanderous behaviour.

                    • Chuck

                      I will help you out Richard rawshark, look up defamation law and then apply that to the examples you have written above.

                      This is not about National…please keep up.

                    • Hanswurst

                      @Chuck, why don’t you get back to first principles a bit and explain exactly how anybody had been defamed. Little’s statements are all factual, aside from the “stinks to high heaven” bit, which, as has been patiently explained to you, is clearly the impression he gets from the factual statements regarding the timing. In the media, others have come to the same impression, not based on any utterance of Little’s, but on those very same facts that we all have available.

                      Your reasoning appears to be thus: “I have read up a bit on defamation law, Little said “stinks to high heaven… ?? … DEFAMATION!”

                      It’s clear that you’re struggling to come across with an air of certainty that defamation has occurred, but it’s not entirely clear what argument, if any, you have for that being the case.

              • mikes

                “However by saying “it stinks to high heaven” implies wrong doing by the parties involved…”

                I would have thought asking the AG to investigate would just as easily imply wrong doing by the parties involved. After all, you would only ask for an investigation if you thought there was wrongdoing.

                This is a no win situation for the Hagamans, They have either been given bad legal advice or have gone against their representatives legal advice.

                (And sryland will owe me a grand!)

                • Chuck

                  To mikes and Hanswurst, go back and read my post 14.2 – elements a plaintiff needs to prove.

                  What is defamation? The publication of a untrue statement that tends to harm another person’s reputation or standing.

                  Accordingly, it is defamatory – to varying degrees – to make disparaging or derogatory remarks or suggestions about somebody: to say that they are, for example, criminal, corrupt, a crook, a liar, a cheat, a fraudster, a paedophile, deceitful, dishonest, exploitative, hypocritical, lazy, incompetent, unfaithful, immoral, disloyal, a coward, a drunkard, or are otherwise worthy of anything ranging from disapproval, ridicule or mockery, right through to odium, hatred and contempt.

                  Is there a difference between saying something directly, and merely suggesting or implying it?

                  No. If the ordinary person reading or hearing the statement would naturally infer or interpret a defamatory meaning, it doesn’t make a difference whether an accusation was said or written directly, or was merely implied, or where certain things are left unsaid but readers are able to connect the dots.

                  “Stinks to high heaven” along with the context it was said around by Little, gives the Hagamans a sound basis to file against Little for defamation.

                  Just read through all the comments on TS, most are saying the Hagamans (Scenic Hotels) obtained the contract (for the hotel) by way of making a donation (bribe). Thus easily meeting the “minimum threshold of seriousness”.

                  And no mikes, asking for the AG to look into it, is not defamation.

                  • Hanswurst

                    Already had read your post, ta very much. It basically exemplifies the point in my last post (being the main reason why I wrote it}. So does the tortured reasoning I’m replying to directly now. Apart from that, Little is not responsible for comments at The Standard (even if they were saying what you suggest, which they aren’t). Of course, it’s interesting to see you suddenly taking The Standard as representative of the views of the average New Zealander and of the Hagamans’ potential business partners when it suits you to do so.

                    • Chuck

                      “Apart from that, Little is not responsible for comments at The Standard”

                      I am not saying that at all (which I suspect you know and are being a little cheeky).

                      Rather I am liking TS comments as an “example of ordinary person/s” Which in hindsight is a mistake, as I would argue a good number of views here, are not the views of the average NZer!

                      Its up to the court to decide: “If the ordinary person reading or hearing the statement would naturally infer or interpret a defamatory meaning, it doesn’t make a difference whether an accusation was said or written directly, or was merely implied, or where certain things are left unsaid but readers are able to connect the dots”.

                      Thus Little does have a problem. Even if you are 100% sure he does not…

                      Your comments last night: “Little’s statements are all factual, aside from the “stinks to high heaven” bit” Bingo now you understand!!

                      And further: “is clearly the impression he gets from the factual statements regarding the timing” Impression = huge problem for Little…he needs to either back it up with fact, or apologise for a defamatory remark.

                    • Hanswurst

                      Chuck, your bluster above still falls to identify how “stinks to high heaven” defamed the Hagamans. Theke it is useless.

                    • Hanswurst

                      “Theke” = “therefore”. Where’s the edit function gone?

                    • Chuck

                      “Chuck, your bluster above still falls to identify how “stinks to high heaven” defamed the Hagamans. Theke it is useless.”

                      From dictionary.com:

                      “From stink to high heaven. Also, smell to high heaven. Be of very poor quality; also, be suspect or in bad repute. For example, This plan of yours stinks to high heaven, or His financial schemes smell to high heaven; I’m sure they’re dishonest.”

                      The Hagamans were named by Little as the donors and owners of Scenic Hotels (which of course they are). Little thinks “it stinks to high heaven” how Scenic Hotels was rewarded the management contract.

                      Now apply the dictionary meaning to “stinks to high heaven” and you have the basis for defamation.

                    • Hanswurst

                      As stated above by another poster (and read, quoted and replied to by you), they didn’t award it to themselves, so referring to how it was awarded is a fairly transparent sleight of hand. I’m still waiting to hear what you think is defamatory. All you have pointed to that might be construed as “stinking to high heaven” has been a verifiable matter of the deal’s timing. What has Little untruthfully or misleadingly implied the Hagamans to have done?

                    • Chuck

                      I will make it very simple for you to understand…

                      Little is implying the Hagamans made the donation to National with the expectation that in return they would obtain a favorable outcome in securing the management contract for Scenic Hotels.

                      Choose to accept that or not…it does not matter. Under NZ defamation law the Hagamans have a case against Little.

                      Unless Little backs out, it will be up to a NZ court to decide the outcome.

                    • lprent []

                      Under NZ defamation law the Hagamans have a case against Little.

                      You appear to be a legal dimwit who hasn’t read with the limitations to defamation in NZ with the Defamation Act 1992 or even the simplest guide to NZ defamation law.

                      I can’t see where the plaintiff has an untrue statement to point to. As far as I can see, every statement made by Andrew Little is well-documented and not in dispute. About the only statement that isn’t would be the observations about the timings, which is hardly an untrue statement because those timings look bloody suspicious to a lot of people, me included – and is clearly honest opinion (see the act).

                      Sure the timing could be perfectly innocent. However since it involved public funds, I’d like to see a clear transparent probe into exactly what the decision making process was. And that doesn’t mean one of National’s mates doing their usual whitewash.

                      The problem with “implying” is that it isn’t something that a NZ court will easily even allow into a defamation case, and almost certainly won’t in this case. And s12 rather explicitly eliminates even having to defend the exact implication your ignorant opinion says that he does. And that implication is that there was an issue that may be against the public interest, which in itself is also a defense against defamation.

                      That is why this is a nuisance or vexatious case.

                      I suspect that you have a view of defamation law that relates to how it was prior to the legislative changes in defamation law. It appears to be some mythical idea of how it should operate rather than how it actually operates.

                      Basically you appear to have your head stuck up your arse after eating a copy of a 19th century law book like Blackstone and you are making your opinion in the salubrious forum of decayed mythic legalese that has nothing to do with 21st century NZ law.

                    • Hanswurst

                      Little is implying the Hagamans made the donation to National with the expectation that in return they would obtain a favorable outcome in securing the management contract for Scenic Hotels.

                      I call BS on that. Where is he implying that?

        • Chuck

          “Hagamans made the donation in order to receive the contract”

          “That might be the perception but of course the Hagamans didn’t award themselves the contract. You don’t seem to understand that another party awarded the contract.”

          Glad you are not saying the Hagamans awarded the contract to themselves!

          But what you don’t understand is this – Andrew Little is implying (stinks to high heaven) the contract was rewarded on the basis that the Hagamans knew they could / would received special treatment in return for a political donation.

          Of course once papers have been filed…its then up to the court to decide (if Little does not fold before hand).

          • Hanswurst

            Andrew Little is implying (stinks to high heaven) the contract was rewarded on the basis that the Hagamans knew they could / would received special treatment in return for a political donation.

            No, he is saying that the timing looks suspicious, which it does.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              …especially in the context of Cabinet Club, Lusk’s evidence and McCully’s well earned reputation.

              What honest person would want to be associated with the National Party?

              • In Vino

                And it could be that plaintiff made the donation innocently, and then, because of that donation, the Government awarded them the contract. That makes the Government the corrupt party. You cannot conclusively prove that Little’s words were directed specifically at the plaintiff.

                Innocent until proven guilty. No conclusive proof to this point.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            They don’t have a case. Looking forward to laughing at you too. Don’t forget now 🙂

    • Rosie 14.3

      “Little could argue that the criticism applies more to the Government that followed the procedure rather than the ‘entrepreneurs’ who instinctively acted to take advantage of it.”

      Thats the way I see it (ditto b wags) The Hagamans response is overly sensitive. It’s possible they have an over inflated sense of themselves and panicked, due to a perceived slight against their self importance and have been too hasty in their reaction.

      They might find they regret it further down the track – they have opened their beloved party up to scrutiny that would have otherwise gone fairly unnoticed in a country that is tolerant of a National coalition government behaving badly.

      • Words 14.3.1

        It would be interesting to see if the Hagmans do take their weak case of hurt feelings to court, as it will possibly open them up to the kind of scrutiny that they may not want.

      • Anne 14.3.2

        Thats the way I see it (ditto b wags) The Hagamans response is overly sensitive. It’s possible they have an over inflated sense of themselves and panicked, due to a perceived slight against their self importance and have been too hasty in their reaction.

        I think you’ve got it there Rosie. Plus the fact they don’t come across to me as very bright. It’s remarkable how many ‘rich pricks’ prove to be as thick as two short planks. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, or inherited a lot of money. Money begats money.

    • Ben 14.4

      Your point around language is valid. But the way Little said it, the context and intent goes against him. I recall thinking at the time that he was clearly accusing the Hagamans of dodgy behaviour. That said, ‘how’ people ‘felt’ about a statement might be a hard one to get across in court, particularly 6-12 months down the track.

      Little calling the AG in was a good move, but he should have known better than to bring emotive language into the fray.

      The Hagamans would have taken sound legal advice before persuing this case, and I doubt they would have kept it in the public realm if they had something to hide. Bluffing perhaps, but highly unlikely.

      How is Little/Labour going to fund his defence?

      • Ross 14.4.1

        I recall thinking at the time that he was clearly accusing the Hagamans of dodgy behaviour.

        I don’t think so. He was saying the deal was dodgy. I’d like to think even rabid Tories are able to understand the difference.

      • Rosie 14.4.2

        “The Hagamans would have taken sound legal advice before persuing this case, ………..”

        Sure about that? Sure they didn’t react irrationally?

        Lols. I know someone that got threatened with a defamation case in regard to his speaking out about the questionably criminal behaviour of a contractor of a developer. He received a letter from the contractor’s lawyer saying he should desist from speaking out if he wanted to prevent a “deformation” case being taken against him.

        Those with either have thin skins, who are bullies, or feel they carry more privilege than others are quite capable of reacting without thinking too hard or paying attention to the details.

        • Colonial Viper

          You’ll know the answer if the papers are actually filed.

          • Rosie

            ” if the papers are actually filed.”

            Key word, “actually”. Really, it could all just be hot air at this point.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yep. The Hagamans will have no wish to waste their own time and money on an unwinnable fools errand.

          • Penny Bright


            Until there is a CIV number for a defamation proceeding – which proves it has actually been filed in Court – it’s all just huffy puffy talk, in my opinion.

            Penny Bright
            2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

        • In Vino

          ….And I have occasionally heard a lawyer exclaim enthusiastically, “We have a case! We have a case!” and privately thought, ‘Yes, a case that we could lose but you will get paid for regardless.’ … Lawyers can sometimes push cases of dubious certainty for the obvious reason.

        • Graeme

          “The Hagamans would have taken sound legal advice before persuing this case, ………..”

          Their beagle saw a new Audi….

      • The lost sheep 14.4.3

        ‘How is Little/Labour going to fund his defence?’

        With the money Unions donate?

        Hey, here’s a thought.
        If Unions were the largest donor to the Labour Party, and a Labour Government then passed laws that materially benefited unions, would that be self evident proof of an obvious corruption that stank to heaven?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Perhaps, Wormtongue, you can give us an example of a law that materially benefits unions? The Human Rights Act, perhaps?

      • mikes 14.4.4

        “The Hagamans would have taken sound legal advice before persuing this case, ”

        Sound legal advice would not have been to sue for defamation. So they either got unsound legal advice or ignored the legal advice (probably due to an over inflated sense of self importance)

      • whispering kate 14.4.5

        Ben, it will be crowd funded and heaps will donate towards it – I for one.

    • Graeme 14.5

      I’ve been scratching my head about that too.

      I see the “It stinks to high heaven” as being about Muckup McCully’s handling of the deal.

      If the Hagaman’s are going to have a crack at anyone, it should be McCully for having the political ineptitude to drop one of his parties top donors squarely in the political arena. If I was in Earl Hagaman’s position, AND my donation had no bearing on the Niue contract, I would have been quietly facilitating McCully’s evisceration, public or private.

    • Gabby 14.6

      Little could argue that the criticism applies more to the Government that followed the procedure

      Or even the procedure itself.

    • Maz 14.7

      My thoughts exactly In Vino.

  15. Rosie 15

    Just like to echo the sentiments already expressed about Little’s good decision in holding his ground.

    Nice skillz. I like the level headed calm approach and the fact that he is unmoved and uninfluenced by over reactive monied people. This self assurance, self belief and strong sense of moral duty is a very good sign in a leader.

    Kia Kaha Andy!

    • Ben 15.1

      It is Little’s lack of level headed calm approach that will end him up front of a judge. He could have got his point across without making it personal.

      • Ross 15.1.1

        He didn’t make it personal…and I haven’t heard that heaven was offended by his comments.

      • Rosie 15.1.2

        Suit yourself Ben, but the way I see it, it’s the Hagamans taking it all too personally.

        • Richardrawshark

          Don’t worry Rosie, I suspect as far as this goes will be pre trial depositions, if they can make a case for even a case out of this I will be surprised.

          and before any case goes up for trial they test the case to see if there is one else it’s a waste of court time, this is where the prosecution lay out there case.

          Is their a case to answer will be the big question and a judge will decide that not some senile wig wearing right wing jerk.

      • mikes 15.1.3

        He didn’t make it personal at all. Saying “it stinks to high heaven” doesn’t make it personal. He’s saying “it” stinks to high heaven, not the Hagaman’s stink to high heaven. “it” is obviously referring to the whole affair, not aimed directly at any of the parties involved.

        “it stinks to high heaven” can easily be argued as meaning that in Little’s opinion “the whole affair stinks to high heaven” and should be investigated. No judge is going to view that comment as defaming the Hagaman’s

  16. Dale 16

    There’s nothing wrong with protecting your reputation. The Hagamans will win this case for sure.
    This will be another fail just like the Panama Papers and so many other smear jobs Labour specialise in.
    Maybe Little is so pissed off due to the total lack of donors Labour currently have. Who would give money to Labour now when they will be accused of buying favours or when they do Labour shits on them.
    You all remember a certain Mr Owen,right?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      The Hagamans don’t have a case. The NZLP was not involved in exposing New Zealand’s tax haven and money laundering industry.

      When the corrupt trash don’t win, remember this moment: I am laughing at you.

  17. Old Tony 17

    Interesting. If the giving of donations to a political party after which things happen to benefit the donor are prima facie indicative of corruption, what are we to make of the relationship between the unions and any Labour Government?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      Whatever you “make” of it (I use the word “make” loosely, because let’s face it, none of “your” “opinions” have a shred of originality to them) is sure to be motivated by hate, and utterly worthless.

    • What “donor” and what “benefit” to that “donor” are you talking about when you blather vaguely about “unions?” In most cases I’ve seen, a party of labour that’s funded by the labour movement and acts to improve the lot of the working class is regarded by wingnuts as on a par with a businessman donating a shitload of cash to the bosses’ party and getting a lucrative government contract a month later. Which goes a long way to explaining the missing ethical standards of the current government.

    • Sabine 17.3

      there is a Union Man who has given 101.000$ to the Labour Party and a month later his company/Union received 7.5 million$ worth of ‘work’?

      Would you mind substantiating your claims with some facts? Pretty please?

      • JamieB 17.3.1

        What? Where was the info that the contract to manage the resort was $7.5 mil?

    • Richardrawshark 17.4

      One benefits a private individual, the other gains no personal benefit whatsoever and is sole purpose is to support the working man, and if you knew the history of such Labour and unions began to fight scum like you lot who would have us working 24hours a day free if you possibly could.

      Your age old argument is drivel and best said in an internet forum for obvious reasons hence you used it, take it to a workingman’s club and say that!

      Hasn’t snakeoil got something more interesting in your IQ range?

  18. Gabby 18

    Trying to recall the last time a Labour govt benefited unions. Still if you’ve any specific accusations of bribery, Old Tooly, don’t hold back.

  19. Chuck 19

    “Little could argue that the criticism applies more to the Government that followed the procedure rather than the ‘entrepreneurs’ who instinctively acted to take advantage of it.”

    Rosie if that’s the way you see it, then Little will be found guilty of defamation.

    • Rosie 19.1

      Eh? It’s means the Hagamans are clutching at straws, if the defence were to be that Little’s criticism was aimed the govt, as it rightly should be. As mentioned by another commentor it’s McCully that the Hagamans should direct their anger upon.

  20. Colonial Viper 20

    The legal action against the Labour Leader is a consequence of Andrew Little’s Parliamentary inexperience.

    Winston making the same accusations/inferences against Hagaman would have done so within the protection of the House.

    Which is what it is there for – providing a shield designed to allow Opposition MPs to pursue their constitutional role in putting the government under the microscope.

    Yes, both Winston and Little are legally trained, however, Winston has the deep Parliamentary experience needed to successfully use this kind of accusatory maneuver.

    • Chuck 20.1

      I was wondering when someone was going to bring this up CV.

      Winston must be shaking his head in total disbelief over Little’s lack of awareness in not using Parliamentary privilege.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 20.1.1


        This is on a planet where the Hagamans have a case, is it?

      • Hanswurst 20.1.2

        I was wondering when someone was going to bring this up CV

        Why didn’t you bring it up then?

    • Lucy 20.2

      CV actually I think Little not using Parliamentary privilege was a great move. I do not take any Winston says inside the house seriously. He and Michael Laws have destroyed the institution with their scattergun approach to “naming and shaming” but making sure that they stand within the confines of the house. That sucks and implies that they don’t really believe what they are saying.

      • Colonial Viper 20.2.1

        Well if the Hagaman’s go ahead and file, Little and Labour will spend the rest of the year in a media circus distraction, thanks to this “great move.”

        As for Winston, he’s led the great political comeback of this century and noticeably grown his party’s caucus and vote since 2008.

        Compare to Labour.

        • Lucy

          Because someone can work politics does not make them a great politician! Brash arguably led the greatest political comeback this century by plumbing a depth. Before him it was Muldoon using dancing Cossacks, growing a caucus by exposing the New Zealand underbelly of hatred may spin your wheels, it makes me very depressed. Little will not spend this year bogged down with this. Lange’s defamation case took how long to come to court?

          • Colonial Viper

            so what to you makes a great politician? You talk about Brash whose leadership lasted one term. Thats about what Littles will last.

            • Lucy

              I am old enough to remember Norman Kirk – honest and real, but with flaws. In the last forty years within NZ and internationally I have seen few politicians that are anything but venal, self serving and open to anything to keep them in power. I think Little may be a better politician than most so I don’t believe that Little will only last one term.
              Robertson and Cunnliffe are cut from the self serving cloth Labour definitely needs to not go there or go there again.

              • Colonial Viper

                i have met a lot of these newer MPs you are talking about at Labour Party functions, and you havent got it right at all.

  21. Ross 21

    Key says he did not handle party donations and knew nothing about the hotel deal. Party political leaders routinely profess ignorance about their donors, but this may be doubted. Big donors usually want the party to know who they are because they expect something in exchange, even if it’s just a friendly meeting with a party leader.

    Hagaman, 89, who is reportedly worth $190m, was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2014 New Year Honours List for services to business. In an interview in February that year he also spoke about donating money to ACT and about his admiration for Sir Roger Douglas.

    In politics, perception matters as much as reality, and in recent years perceptions of New Zealand’s honesty have grown worse. This year New Zealand fell to fourth place in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. This is the second time in a row it has dropped in the ratings. Before that it topped the poll seven times.

    The Government’s mysterious deal with Saudi businessman Hamood Al Khalaf has left unanswered questions. Its SkyCity deal, under which the casino will build a conference centre in return for being allowed extra pokie machines, was also questionable. This is the context in which the Niue deal took place, and that is why there should be an impartial inquiry.


    I wonder if the Hagamans intend to sue the Dominion Post. If not, why not?

    • Richardrawshark 21.1

      He will, they all idolize the Don, take em to court ask questions later, approach. Unless the papers owned by his mate, then it’ll be a glass of port, cheque exchange, shake, nod secret handshake, secret wink and hand gesture, game of snooker throw keys in bowl pick up the wife shortly after that and off home for a hot totty and bed.

    • North 21.2

      Excellent Ross.

  22. Daveosaurus 22

    The Hagamans and their lawyers: poor, deluded fools. They should ask Barbra Streisand for advice on how well this is going to end for them.

  23. Richard Christie 23

    This will teach the Hagamans, in fact the Hagamans and quite a few other National Party donors, that they really do need to time their donations more carefully. Try to get in at very least 10 or 11 months between donation and payback.
    Sloppy, Hagaman, sloppy.

  24. pwmcm 24

    I wonder when the Hagamans became an “it” rather than a “he”. “she” or “they”? Perhaps they have been showering in the wrong stuff?

  25. upnorth 25

    In my opinion this case will stick and Andrew Little will be in big trouble however the greatest worry is that I have heard that Labour cant even fund a by-election.

    I have asked before is Labour broke?

    This is the issue facing Labour they just get donations – why? No want people saying that they don’t rely on donations and Nats get all the fat cats money – that is irrelevant and unfounded because Labour used to get millions – what has happened.

    Is the party on the verge of bankruptcy or will the affiliated labour parties need to fund HQ out. I think Dunedin Labour has already given a loan to HQ

    • Anne 25.1

      Judging by so many of your previous remarks here, I don’t think your “opinion” counts for anything.

      And your total ignorance of Labour Party fiscal management is telling. Labour operates an electorate levy system. It’s based on membersip numbers. That is where their basic income is derived and is used to run Labour HQ among other things. Anything they receive on top of that – be it from an electorate committee or an individual – is a donation. That is where their campaign expenses are derived. The middle year of an electorate cycle is always the lowest where donations are concerned. Come election year the donations received usually increase dramatically and there’s no reason why next year will be any different.

      • Lanthanide 25.1.1

        upnorth said “by-election”, not “election”.

        There’s going to be a by-election in Phil Goff’s electorate once he retires.

        • Anne

          I was replying to his full comment. It was uninformed codswallop. I was trying to educate him. An uphill task I know but something might stick. 😉

      • upnorth 25.1.2

        i am a voter – therefore I am allowed an opinion.

  26. Colonial Viper 26

    The owner of Scenic Hotels, Earl Hagaman – a well-known and perennial donor to the National part

    If this is true and Hagaman is a regular donor to the National Party, then Little may be driving Labour down a dead end road with his Niue hotel deal noises.

    • Richardrawshark 26.1

      Words CV can have many meanings, Perennial could mean he’s donated twice. 🙂

      Spin is everywhere. Where’s my tinfoil hat…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 26.2


    • Anne 26.3

      On the other hand CV he may be exposing yet another of National’s crooked M.O. where people who lavishly donate large sums of money are given priority over and above normal democratic governance procedures. In other words playing a nasty little ‘you scratch our backs and we’ll scratch yours” game. I doubt whether many of their own supporters would find that kind of behaviour acceptable.

      • Colonial Viper 26.3.1

        where people who lavishly donate large sums of money are given priority over and above normal democratic governance procedures.

        I would suggest this is the norm for National. Remember BMW dealer donations and voila frequent updating of the limo fleet.

        But if Hagaman has made multiple large donations over many years its going to make it very very hard for Little to demonstrate a quid pro quo in the Niue case.

        • Pat

          apparently most of his previous donations were to Act…hadnt donated to the Nats for some time

          • Colonial Viper

            and this is the moneyed right wing.

            They have lots of ways and legal entities which can do the donating/receiving of donations.

        • dave

          it easy was there a open tender did all interested parties have a level playing field for the contract if the answer is no them its corruption little is right

        • Keith

          I would expect regular donations, a genuine player who plays the long game can be rewarded in many ways as time goes by, a favour here, a favour there, it matters not if he’s invested a million with National. $101k is an outrageously good return on investment so more realistically whose to say it’s not one of many “facilitation installments”? The fact more transactions may have been made should make matters worse overall for them.

          Little said what most think, he’s up front on this, put his arse on the line which is more than Peters ever does!

          • Colonial Viper

            Peters has lasted the test of time. And has claimed scalps along the way.

            • Ross

              Sounds like you should vote for Peters given your admiration of him!

              • Jack Ramaka

                Winston is probably the only politican in Parliament doing it for the right reason, I am suprised he has lasted with all the nonsense he has had to put up with.

              • Colonial Viper

                Political ability. Recognise it and respect it.

  27. Jenny Kirk 27

    Defamation ? Is there a lawyer here who could tell us what the process is ? Because I thought – and I’m not sure where I picked this up from – that when a defamation case is laid against someone (actually served by or in the Court) then the subject becomes sub judice until the case is heard, and the case need not be heard for two years. And it need not be taken up at all – it just lapses after the two years.

    Can someone else (Micky Savage ?) clarify this for me please.

  28. Goon 28

    I often wax lyrical over my s**t too but I’ve never been dragged before the courts for it. Well maybe a Little and you a Little too I litigate.

  29. Goon 29

    I often wax lyrical over my s**t too but I’ve never been dragged before the courts for it. Well maybe a Little and you a Little too I litigate.

  30. save nz 30

    Good on Little… there is a stinky whiff here that needs investigating!

  31. James 31

    God there are a lot of bush lawyers on here.

    Fact is hagamans and little would have both taken advise. I reckon it will end before going to court with a 1/2 baked apologie from little (again).

    • Ross 31.1

      Yep, something along the lines of “I apologise if you were offended – you need to harden up”.

  32. Ross 32

    The trouble is that National have form in regards to apparently corrupt deals.

    Remember the BMW deal, a deal that John Key said he knew nothing about when in fact he’d been kept well informed?


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