Māori Party will cooperate if investigated by Serious Fraud Office

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Māori Party says it will cooperate fully with any investigation following reports that Police have referred the late declaration of some donations to the Serious Fraud Office. 

Earlier this month, Māori Party president Che Wilson acknowledged that a mistake was made in failing to declare to the Electoral Commission donations totaling $327,000 made to the party last year.

The commission referred the matter to the Police to investigate.

Media reports say the Police have now referred the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

However, the party says it has not yet received notification of this from the Police or any other agency. 

The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it has received a referral about the donations to the Māori Party. But it cannot confirm whether there is an investigation into the matter at this stage.

Māori Party donations

Three substantial donations to the Maori Party totalled $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.

Māori Party president Che 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.)

Other party 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.