Company denies Niue conflict of interest

  • 19/04/2016
Foreign Minister Murray McCully (Lydia Anderson)
Foreign Minister Murray McCully (Lydia Anderson)

The company that won a contract to run a resort in Niue a month after its chairman donated $100,000 to the National Party is denying there was any conflict of interest.

Labour leader Andrew Little says it looks suspicious and has asked the auditor-general to investigate the tender process.

Brendan Taylor, managing director of Scenic Hotels, says Earl Hagaman, who made the donation in 2014, didn't know the company was bidding for the contract.

"We don't see it as a conflict of interest, we were dealing with a consultancy firm that was running the tender process and it was all at arm's length," he told RNZ.

"'Early' wasn't actually even aware that we were negotiating in Niue."

Niue's Matavai Resort is heavily funded by New Zealand Government aid and the management contract was awarded by the Niue Tourism Property Trust, whose trustees are appointed by Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

He's strongly denied any link between the donation and the contract.

"Absolutely none whatsoever," he said today.

"Scenic Hotels was appointed as the managers after an international competitive process... this is something that was done on a purely commercial basis."

Mr McCully said he didn't know Mr Hagaman was a National Party donor.

Party president Peter Goodfellow says there's no way the donation could have influenced the contract.

The party organisation wouldn't have known about it and the minister wouldn't have been told about it, he said.