Gareth Morgan gives another huge donation to his own party

PLUS: Other recent big-note contributions to National, Labour, the Maori Party and others.

Gareth Morgan has made another huge donation to his own party: $500,000 on August 10, according to the latest Electoral Commission disclosures of contributions over $30,000.

The Opportunities Party leader previously donated $500,000 on June 16 and $150,000 on May 19, $150,000 on April 18 and $100,000 on March 19.

For those who have run out of fingers, that's $1.4 million.

All the spending – and publicity, often associated with Mr Morgan losing his rag – seems to be having an effect. TOP moved to 2% in the latest 1News-Colmar Brunton poll from 1% a month earlier (with the party still within margin-of-error territory, such results have to be taken with a grain of salt but other surveys have shown a similar trend).

Other big-note donations include:

  • Auckland artist Stanley Palmer to Labour: $39,100)*
  • Wellington artist Karl Maugham 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).

Can't buy me love
Earlier, ACT leader David Seymour told NBR big donations are not necessarily a route to success, and can even be a bad look if a founder is the only one making a major contribution to a party.

His theory stacks up if the last election was anything to go by.

The (then) Conservative Party leader Mr Craig and Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom both donated about $5 million to their own parties during the 2014 election cycle.

The Internet Party, aligned with Mana, received just 1.42% of the vote and the alliance’s only sitting MP, Mana’s Hone Harawira, lost his seat.

The Conservative Party also fell short of the 5% MMP threshold, receiving 3.97% of the list vote, and it did not come within cooee of winning an electorate.

National (47.04% of the vote) raised $2.6 million in the 2014 election cycle while Labour (25.13%) attracted just under $1.27 million in donations – actually slightly behind the Greens (10.70%) who pocketed $1.30 million.

The best bang-for-buck came from the headline-hogging Winston Peters, whose party raised a modest $270,000 but secured 8.66% of the vote.

Looking north, Hillary Clinton's campaign raised around $US1.19 billion for her US presidential election bid, or roughly double that of the Trump campaign.


* 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.

** In the run-up to the last election, Bruce Plested, a $400 million NBR Rich Lister, donated $35,000 to National and $100,000 to its coalition partner the Maori Party. Additionally, a company in which Mr Plested is a one-third shareholder, Rorohara Farms, donated $110,000 to the Maori Party.

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.”

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