$400m NBR Rich Lister Bruce Plested gives another big donation to Maori Party

Mainfreight founder continues to snub National, this time around.  

NBR Rich Lister Bruce Plested, who has a fortune of $400 million, has given the Maori Party another $50,000 according to the latest Electoral Commission disclosures of donations above $30,000.

The Mainfreight co-founder has already given the party $100,000 this election cycle.

The donation was listed under his own name on the Electoral Commission site last night, but this morning appeared under “Rorohara Farm” [sic]. Rorohara Farms is owned by Mr Plested, Mainfreight managing director Don Braid and Mainfreight director Carl Howard-Smith. Like Mr Plested, Messrs Braid and Howard-Smith are major Mainfreight shareholders.

In the run-up to the last election, Mr Plested donated $35,000 to National and $100,000 to its coalition partner the Maori Party, while Rorohara Farms, donated an additional $110,000 to the Maori Party.

But in June, Mr Plested drew headlines for blasting the government in Mainfreight’s annual report.

In his chairman’s letter to shareholders, he says that housing has become unaffordable and New Zealand's environment is suffering.

“The market cannot sort out this problem,” he said on housing. On water quality and associated issues he writes, “The problems mentioned here are not fixed by the market.”

Accordingly, this time around he appears to be giving National the cold shoulder.

The Maori Party has two MPs in Parliament, leader Te Ururoa Flavell, who is fighting to hold the Waiariki Maori seat, and Marama Fox -- who came in on the list as the Maori Party (1.35%) just cleared the 1.25% threshold to get a member in on Mr Flavell's coat-tails.

The other new donation to appear overnight is HWM (NZ) Holdings which gave $50,000 to National. HWM is a vehicle for the $210 million Rich List Huljich family.

Other big-note donations include:

• Gareth Morgan to TOP: $1.4 million
• Auckland artist Stanley Palmer to Labour: $39,100)*
• Wellington artist Karl Maughan to Labour: $60,000
• NBR Rich Lister Barry Colman to National: $56,000
• Alpha Laboratories (owned by Geum Soon Shim) to National: $112,000
• Carrus Corporation (owned by Rich Lister and Tauranga property developer Paul Adams) to National: $50,000
• NBR Rich Lister and Mainfreight chairman Bruce Plested to the Maori Party: $100,000**
• Et Tu union to Labour: $100,000
• Et Tu union to the Greens: $30,000
• Retired High Court judge Robert Smellie, QC, to Labour: $100,000
• Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry (directors: Lang Lin and Meng Qing) to National: $150,000
• Alan Gibbs to ACT: $100,000

Labour is also boasting it has raised $500,000 since Jacinda Ardern became leader on August 1, mostly in small donations according to campaign manager Andrew Kirton. Other parties have been shy of giving a specific update.

Beyond whatever they raise through their own efforts, each party has been allocated taxpayer funding for electoral ads, broadly tied to its level of support, with National getting $1.3 million and Labour just over $1 million (see other totals here).


* Stanley Palmer says he was not aware his name had been put forward by Labour as a donor. It seems his name was used to funnel donations by un-named others during an art auction. Painter Karl Maughan says the same.

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