There is absolutely no story here and nothing to see. And no link whatsoever between donations of $101,000 to the National Party and the subsequent awarding of a contract to manage a luxury resort in Niue to the donor’s company. Nothing at all.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is adamant there is no link between a New Zealand businessman’s donation to the National Party and his company winning a contract to manage a resort in Niue.
A New Zealand businessman made the large donation two years ago then won a contract to manage a luxury resort in Niue which is heavily funded by the government.
In October 2014, New Zealand’s Scenic Hotel Group announced it had “secured” the Matavai Resort in Niue.
The Niue Tourism Property Trust, whose trustees are appointed by Mr McCully, carried out what the minister said was a fully commercial process to find a company to run the resort.
That contract was won by the Scenic Hotel Group.
The month before, Earl Hagaman, that company’s founder, donated $101,000 to the National Party, making him National’s biggest living financial donor in 2014.
And McCully is not a control freak who is all over every decision that his department makes.
Hagaman made two donations in 2014 totalling $101,000 to the National Party. The return for that year shows a number of split donations from different donors mostly made closely together. It would be interesting to discover why.
The timing is very unfortunate and heightens what is a clearly misplaced cynicism in the bona fides of the appointment. The donations were made on September 18, 2014 and the announcement that the Scenic Hotel Group was taking over was made a month later.
The shareholding and ownership of Scenic Hotel Group look interesting. The head shareholder of the company if you follow the chain of ownership through is a New Zealand company Gilbraltar Trust Limited. Gilbraltar has a low corporate tax regime.
McCully is no doubt nervously awaiting the outcome of the Auditor General’s investigation into the Saudi Sheep Farm deal. The AG should also investigate the circumstances of the awarding of the contract to manage the resort. Just to make sure that everything is above board. Which I am sure it is.