Attempts to 'destroy New Zealand First and drive Winston Peters out of politics' will fail, Shane Jones claims

Claims New Zealand First is offering policy in exchange for cash are "conspiracy theories", one of its highest-profile MPs has claimed.

The party's foundation, the NZ First Foundation, is presently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over allegations it's been hiding donations for the party.

And this week it was reported fishing company Talley's donated thousands to the NZ First Foundation, split into amounts small enough they wouldn't have to be declared. 

Environmental group Greenpeace said it "raises serious questions about undeclared conflicts of interest", with Jones' close ties to the fishing industry.

"It's been clear for some time that New Zealand First has been influencing government decisions in favour of commercial fishing," the group's executive director and former Green Party leader Russel Norman wrote in a post on the Greenpeace site.

"Last year, I was concerned enough about what was going on that I wrote a letter to [Prime Minister] Jacinda Ardern requesting she ensure New Zealand First and Minister Shane Jones be kept out of fisheries related decisions. She responded that the usual Cabinet conflict of interest rules would apply.

"The Prime Minister then, like the rest of us, presumably didn't know about these donations, and would not have been able to assess potential conflicts of interest that New Zealand First has been bringing to the Cabinet table."

Jones dismissed Dr Norman's concerns, saying he was "in thrall to this conspiracy theory that somehow I've fallen under the influence of Goldfinger in the fishing industry", referring to the legendarily wealthy and gold-obsessed Bond villain.  

Jones said Talley's were "god-fearing patriotic New Zealanders" who have "given money within the law".

"If they find in me a champion for industry and the party and its policies, that's how democracy in New Zealand works," he told Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd.

"I've had a gutsful of people putting out conspiracy theories that somehow they represent the Goldfinger of New Zealand democracy. It's wrong and it's tripe."

Simon Shepherd and Shane Jones.
Simon Shepherd and Shane Jones. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

He went on to say he would always stand up for the "the three Fs" of fishing, forestry and farming, as well as mining, calling himself a "three-F politician".

Others involved in "conspiracy thinking", according to Jones, are "liberal left-wing commentators out of universities" and state broadcaster RNZ, which originally broke the Talley's story.

Ironically, he presented a conspiracy theory of his own - that it's a deliberate attempt to "destroy New Zealand First and drive [party leader] Winston Peters out of politics".

"It will be unsuccessful."