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Donations trouble for Māori Party and National

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, April 13th, 2021 - 14 comments
Categories: election 2020, election funding, electoral commission, electoral systems, maori party, national - Tags:

The Electoral laws about donations are pretty clear.  Receive a donation over $30,000 and you should tell the Electoral Commission about the report within the next ten working days.

This is a law passed by National in 2009.

But National and the Māori Party have managed to screw up their reporting requirements quite spectacularly.

From Claire Trevett at the Herald:

The Māori Party has been referred to police for failing to disclose about $320,000 worth of donations within the required time frame.

The Electoral Commission has announced it had referred the Māori Party to police over the failure to disclose large donations from three people or entities – including donations totalling $158,223.72 from former party co-leader John Tamihere.

There was also a total of $48,879.85 from the Urban Māori Authority, donated between May and September last year.

The third was a single $120,000 donation in July from Aotearoa Te Kahu Limited Partnership.

The Electoral Commission is also looking into a late disclosure by the National Party.

The returns show the National Party was also late to disclose donations from real estate bigwig Garth Barfoot, a regular donor.

Barfoot donated $15,000 in May, a further $10,000 in October and another $10,000 on November 11. The November donation tipped Barfoot over the $30,000 threshold, but the donations were not disclosed by the party until March 31.

The Electoral Commission said it had asked for an explanation from the National Party and was still assessing the matter.

It did not automatically refer all late donations to the police, but considered issues such as the party’s past record and the timeframes involved.

A spokesman for the National Party declined to set out the reasons for the late disclosure:

“We keep in regular contact with the Electoral Commission, particularly in regard to supplying information and explanations on the disclosure of donations.”

The Māori Party have fessed up.  My inner catholic agrees.  Again from the Herald:

Māori Party President Che Wilson put the late disclosure of donations down to “rookie” mistakes, saying the party executive had misinterpreted the law.

“When we did our clean-up of everything, we realised we needed to report that so we made contact with the Electoral Commission straight away.”

The party’s problems are in part because John Tamihere made a number of donations to the party.  It is impressive and good form that they were all recorded.  But his donation of $18,000 on August 31, 2020 and $54,434.77 on September 16, 2020 both raised my eyebrows.  The second looks like it might be funded from contributions, and there are some pretty strict rules relating to this.  I am sure the Electoral Commission will ask the right questions.

They should also ask about the donation of $36,248.22 made on 31 October 2020.  Again the amount looks a bit strange.

The donations by Aotearoa Te Kahu Limited Partnership ($120,000 on July 2, 2020) and the National Urban Māori Authority ($35,371.24 on June 26, 2020) should have been declared.  This is especially important during an election campaign where voters should be told who is funding the party.

National has its own faux pas to deal with.  It should have declared cumulative donations by Garth Barfoot  in November last year but failed to do so.

There is a duty for the Electoral Commission to report these breaches to the Police unless it is considered that the breaches are so inconsequential that there is no public interest in doing so.  I suspect both parties will have some more questions to answer.

14 comments on “Donations trouble for Māori Party and National ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    The resuscitated MP has made good cut through so far, and embarrassed the Govt. on Corrections issues in particular. So NZ Labour may want to see them dealt with by the full force of the etc.

    That would be understandable for many in the political establishment-but for others it would also reinforce institutional racism. National’s Waitemata Trust and brown paper bag style funding has never been dealt with properly, and they have not been referred to police, yet, on the Barfoot donation. Sure, it may all shake out, but it looks bad to Māori Party supporters.

    • You mean like the MP leader who said it was people's choice whether they had a covid vaccine rather than him encouraging people to be vaccinated.

      Each person who refuses a vaccine puts the rest of us at risk.

  2. Foreign Waka 2

    Fraud is fraud, dishonesty is not cheeky or culturally acceptable.

  3. Stuart Munro 4

    Well, I don't know what the powers are to punish but if it were me, the MP would get a stern warning and a promise of no clemency if they do it again.

    But the Gnats know better – they should get the kind of treatment someone deliberately flouting parking rules for their own convenience gets.

  4. Sabine 5

    The question really is – and again, this may have changed since the reporting on this yesterday, why are the Maori Party Donations 'mishap' reported to police and the National 'oversight' not?

    Is that an oversight from the electoral Commission?

    from the same article

    The Electoral Commission said it had asked for an explanation from the National Party and was still assessing the matter.

    It did not automatically refer all late donations to the police, but considered issues such as the party's past record and the timeframes involved.

    A spokesman for the National Party declined to set out the reasons for the late disclosure:
    "We keep in regular contact with the Electoral Commission, particularly in regard to supplying information and explanations on the disclosure of donations."

    • Anne 5.1

      "Is that an oversight from the electoral Commission?"

      More like the MP 'mishap' was the first to be assessed and is therefore a bit further down the Justice system path. Also they admitted liability so the Commission would have no choice but to pass it on to police.

      The National Party 'misadventure' is still at the assessment stage – in part due to National being 'reluctant' to respond in good time by the looks of it.

      • Sabine 5.1.1

        Still the optics of this are not good on the surface of it.

      • McFlock 5.1.2

        Also, the Barfoot thing seems to be a case of not adding up the cumulative donations and realising they were $5k over the reporting limit.

        Several of the MP donations were well in excess of the reporting level individually, let alone cumulatively, but still weren't reported.

        • Peter 5.1.2.1

          The Barfoot thing seems to be a case of not adding up the cumulative donations and realising they were $5k over the reporting limit. Who was doing the adding up?

          Paul Goldsmith?

  5. Michael 6

    The Nats won't get punished but the Maori Party may.

  6. Tricledrown 7

    Given National's long history of dodgy donations they should have been more careful. But if the Maori Party get prosecuted and National get let off the hook again then is the electoral Commission doing its job properly..

    There needs to be a overhaul including super PAC's like the taxpayers union and the NZ institute who are right wing funded political influencers connected to National and ACT with deep pockets and know accountability like the exclusive brethren.

  7. EE 8

    Tamihere's contribution was not declared to the Electorial Commission,
    but it was declared to the country…
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018754945/broadcaster-and-nzme-apologise-to-john-tamihere

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