New Zealand First Foundation donations: Duo deny charges, opt for trial by jury

By Anneke Smith for RNZ

The two people charged in the New Zealand Foundation case have pleaded not guilty and elected trial by jury.

The Serious Fraud Office has charged two people with obtaining by deception after its investigation into the foundation and its handling of donations.

The defendants are accused of obtaining more than $700,000 between 2015 and 2020, which they then used to pay expenses of the New Zealand First Party.

On Wednesday, one of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge and elected trial by jury before Judge Allan Roberts in the North Shore District Court.

On Thursday the second defendant had his first appearance in the same court this morning, where he also pleaded not guilty and elected trial by jury.

Newshub, RNZ, Stuff, NZME and TVNZ fought to name the pair before the general election, arguing there was compelling public interest in identifying those charged before the polls closed.

The media entities lost in both the District and High Courts before unsuccessfully seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal, bringing their fight to name the accused ahead of the election to an end.

The defendants will next appear on November 19 in the North Shore District Court.