The Act Party received $35,000 in donations from controversial businessman and former part-owner of the Hurricanes, Troy Bowker, last year.
Bowker, executive chairman of Wellington-based investment company Caniwi Capital, was a topic of controversy last year because of a social media post accusing animation entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor of "sucking up to the left Māori loving agenda".
He had previously donated to Labour's Stuart Nash, who received at least $51,000 in direct and indirect donations from Bowker over three election campaigns, but said last August he would not be taking any more donations from Bowker, as a result of the controversy. Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara said at the time the comments contained "underlying racism''.
Bowker said he had switched his support from Nash because he generally supported politicians who "align with my values of integrity and courage to stand up for their opinions," as well as MPs who "are in the right political party for their views".
"Stu fails both tests on the basis he's a closet right-wing guy in the wrong party and is clearly not trusted and effectively ostracised by his party.
"As a result, he's an impotent force politically and of very little consequence; and in 2023 will just be another forgotten former Cabinet minister that very few will remember," Bowker said.
He said he'd switched support to Act's David Seymour instead.
"I'm very happy to support David Seymour," Bowker said.
"He's a man that has the courage of his convictions and also believes in supporting businesses, growing the economy and of course freedom of speech.
"We may not always agree but freedom of speech is crucial for a well-functioning democracy - something Seymour believes in and quite obviously Jacinda does not," he said.
Seymour said he himself would not have written the comments that got Bowker in trouble, but said he would not be copying Nash in refusing Bowker's donations.
"I would not have written what Troy wrote myself, but Act believes in free speech and opposes the kind of self-righteous pile-ons where a person is ostracised for an opinion," Seymour said.
Political parties must declare the names of donors when they donate more than $15,000 to a party in a year. The donation must be declared within 10 working days if it is over $30,000.
Registered political parties have to declare within 10 working days when they get more than $30,000 from a single donor within a 12-month period.
Bowker made his first donation to Act in May last year, giving $20,000. He followed this up in December with two donations, totalling $15,000.
- by Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald