The Electoral Commission has recently released the campaign donation records for the 2011 General Election. These releases raise several important questions that should be put to our Māori members of parliament.
First, why did Sealord Group donate $10,000 to Shane Jones’ failed Tamaki Makaurau campaign? Shane Jones is the former Chair of Te Ohu Kai Moana, the same organisation which owns 50% of Sealord and is responsible for managing Māori fisheries on behalf of, and in conjunction with, Iwi. It is not a good look for the commercial arm of Te Ohu Kai Moana to be getting involved in Māori politics. The Labour Party have been busy accusing the Government of cronyism these past few months, it is an inconsistent argument to run when Shane Jones is taking money from his former commercial and professional mates running Sealord and Te Ohu Kai Moana.
Second, some big money was also donated to Dr. Peter Sharples during the campaign. I am interested to know the link between the Minister and Fletcher Constuction ($20,000); Richard and Tina Yam ($10,000); and Bruce Plested ($25,000). These are significant campaign contributions and represent the single biggest donations made to individual electorate campaigns. Such donations are very unusual in individual campaigns in New Zealand and will raise the inevitable questions as to what connections Dr. Sharples has with these individuals/companies and what specific advantages, if any, were sought by the contributors? If anyone can shed some light into these connections, and the reason for the sizeable contributions to Dr. Sharples campaign, I would appreciate it.
And finally, special mention must also go to the Mana Party, with both Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes brining in numerous, and sizeable, contributions from party members and supporters. Hone Harawira received a grand total of $22,743 solely from donations from the regional branches of Te Mana Party. His campaign was clearly one for the people, funded by the people. Annette Sykes received $8,239.30 in campaign donations, again primarily from individual supporters. Professor Jane Kelsey was the single biggest individual contributor to the Sykes campaign ($500), while specialist Māori Law Firm Kathy Ertel Law contributed $2800. Incidentally, Sykes’ own firm, Aurere Law, did not make a contribution to her campaign.