Morgan tops big donor list for 2017 but deputy says his party's future hangs in the balance

The latest disclosure statements from the Electoral Commission show Gareth Morgan donated $730,000 to The Opportunities Party post-election.

That takes his total donations to his own party to $2.13 million, and consolidates his position as the single most generous donor of the 2017 coalition cycle – by some distance.

Among other milestones, he singlehandedly eclipsed Labour’s crowdfunding drive, which had hit $1 million on the eve of the election, according to an email by campaign manager Andrew Kirton.

Mr Morgan's loot funded a campaign that included electronic billboards, extensive social media advertising and a rambunctious social media contribution from communications director Sean Plunket.

But did the money buy him love or at least respect for his evidence-based policy?

TOP got 2.4% or halfway to the 5% MMP threshold – arguably not a bad result for its second time at bat.

The Conservative Party, also backed by a single big donor, got to within spitting distance of 5% at its second election.

Will TOP give it another punt, possibly giving National an alternative coalition partner following its seemingly irrevocable breakdown with NZ First? Co-founder and Wellington Central candidate Geoff Simmons says the decision is still up in the air.

"TOP is certainly committed to continuing," he tells NBR.

"Whether we will contest the election depends on whether there is still a need for an evidence-based voice that promotes best practice policy not pursued by the government."

Top donor to each party in the 2017 election

  • The Opportunities Party – Gareth Morgan: $2.13 million
  • Maori Party – NBR Rich Lister Bruce Plested: $200,000
  • National –  Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry NZ, which gave $150,000
  • Labour – E Tu union:  $120,000
  • ACT – NBR Rich Lister Alan Gibbs: $100,000
  • Greens – NBR Rich Lister Phillip Mills: $65,000
  • NZ First – No individual donations over the $30,000 disclosure threshold
  • Top donor overall – The NZ taxpayer: $4.1 million (breakdown by party here)

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