Māori Party candidate Wetex Kang victim of 'smear campaign'

  • 07/09/2017
Wetex Kang is contesting the Botany electorate seat.
Wetex Kang is contesting the Botany electorate seat. Photo credit: Supplied

Māori Party candidate Wetex Kang, who is being investigated by the election watchdog, is the victim of a smear campaign, party president Tukoroirangi Morgan says.

Mr Kang, the party's first candidate of Asian descent, is contesting Auckland's Botany electorate.

However, the Electoral Commission on Thursday confirmed it was looking into complaints about him offering virtual credits on popular Chinese social media app WeChat as part of his campaign.

Mr Morgan says allegations of bribery or electoral breaches are serious and the party will wait for the investigation to finish.

But he is confident Mr Kang will be cleared.

"This is a smear campaign on the Māori Party," he told a news conference.

"This is a baseless attack on the Māori Party, on a candidate which I believe has a real chance at taking Botany.

"In relation to the fallacious and baseless allegations made against Mr Kang, I am confident Mr Kang will stand the scrutiny of the investigation."

Mr Morgan traced the "smear" to two women, Eva Chang and Bevan Chuang, who he said had asked for $10,000 to run Mr Kang's campaign and were rejected.

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman had said the commission had received complaints about the use of "hong bao dollars" as part of Mr Kang's campaign.

She said the commission was looking further into the complaints, and had sought further information from Mr Kang.

Hong bao dollars on WeChat are a virtual version of the Chinese tradition of gifting money in red envelopes at special occasions.

The service has allowed people to send credits through the company's online payment platform since 2014.

Mr Morgan said Mr Kang had not sent out any "hong bao dollars".

After the news conference, on receiving further information, he said a volunteer had sent out virtual red envelopes to 351 people which had a combined value of just $3.

Botany is a safe National seat and Jami-Lee Ross retained it with a majority of nearly 13,500 in 2014. The Māori Party didn't stand a candidate that year.

Mr Kang is up against incumbent Jami-Lee Ross of National, Labour's Tofik Mamedov, ACT's Sam Singh, the Greens' Julie Zhu and new United Future leader Damian Light.

Mr Kang is ranked 13th on the Māori Party list.