Māori Party referred to police over failing to declare donations; National also called out

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Apr 2021, 2:59PM
Maori Party coleaders Debbie NgarewaPacker and Rawiri Waititi. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Maori Party coleaders Debbie NgarewaPacker and Rawiri Waititi. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Māori Party referred to police over failing to declare donations; National also called out

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Apr 2021, 2:59PM

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.

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.

The National Party has been asked for comment.

Tamihere's donations to the Māori Party were made between March and October last year.

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.

Under electoral laws, political parties must disclose donations of more than $30,000 within 10 working days.

That also applies to a series of smaller donations from the same person which add up to $30,000 in a year.

If a party secretary is convicted of failing to file donation returns according to the law, the penalty is as high as $100,000 fine or up to two years' imprisonment.

The three donations are now listed in the Electoral Commission's returns.

The Electoral Commission has also referred an unnamed candidate to the police for "election expenditure and alleged non-disclosure of candidate donations."

The Māori Party has been approached for a response.