Māori Party president says not declaring donations an honest mistake

By Te Ao - Māori News

Māori Party president Che Wilson accepts the party made a mistake for failing to correctly declare donations made to the party to the Electoral Commission.

The commission has referred the matter to Police to investigate three substantial donations to the Maori Party totalling $327,000 last year, the largest being $158,000 from then party leader John Tamihere, as well as $120,000 by Aotearoa Te Kahu and $49,000 from the National Urban Māori Authority. 

All three donations were not declared until March and April this year.

Donations of over $30,000 must be declared within 10 working days of donations being made.

Wilson says the party didn't believe the funds were donations and he takes full responsibility for the mistake.

"I te mea, i uru mātou i roto i tēnei kaupapa, i reita tā mātou whakamōhio atu ki te Electoral Commision, i ngā takoha me tā mātou pōhēhē e ara ēnā atu moni e takoha ki tā te ture kī ai. Nā reira, ko tō mātou kuare."

(We have ended up in this position because we were too late to let the Electoral Commission know about the donations, as we didn't know we had to).

"Kaore ngā electorates me ngā candidates i hapa. Engari ko tā mātou a motu nei, a pāti nei i hapa. Na reira, māku tēnei e pīkau." 

  (It is not our electorates nor our candidates who made the mistake. But as a party, we did make a mistake. So I will take responsibility for that.)

Past donation errors

Not declaring donations of more than $30,000 is not new in New Zealand politics.

National failed to declare over $35,000 in donations from veteran Barfoot & Thompson executive Garth Barfoot but the party is yet to be referred to the police. 

In 2018, police charged New Zealand People's Party general secretary Anil Kumar Sharma with breaching the Electoral Act after he failed to correctly file details of more than $200,000 in donations with the Electoral Commission.