Māori Party undeclared donations: Electoral Commission notified as soon as error was noticed - party president Che Wilson

The Māori Party president says he wasn't aware the party had failed to disclose more than $320,000 in election donations, and once they realised what had happened they went directly to the Electoral Commission.

Three donations from 2020 were not declared within the 10 working days required by the Electoral Commission, and now, the matter has been referred to police.

The donations include $158,000 from former Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, $120,000 from company Aotearoa Te Kahu, and $49,000 from the National Urban Māori Authority (NUMA).

Māori Party president Che Wilson, who earlier appeared to blame party volunteers for the error, now says they are not to blame.

"What I was saying was that we are volunteers, we're rookies, and as soon as we realised that we hadn't declared, we went straight to the Electoral Commission," he told The Hui.

"I'd never blame anyone else, which is why I'm fronting this."

Wilson also said he couldn't comment whether the money from NUMA came from Whānau Ora, of which it is a provider. Former Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere is also the CEO of Whānau Ora. 

"We can only talk about what we've done and you'd need to talk to NUMA about that. [I'm] mindful that we're in a police inquiry now, and so you'll have to talk to them directly," Wilson says.

Any donations over $30,000 must be declared to the Electoral Commission within 10 working days of it being received.

Wilson said he is "disappointed in ourselves" that they were so focused on issues that needed solving in the lead-up to the election that meant they didn't have the correct processes.

"We've got to learn from this and make sure that we do better, not only by ourselves but by our people. So we've got to learn and we've got to make sure that we tidy it up."

Late National Party declaration

The National Party also failed to declare over $30,000 in donations within the required timeframe.

The Electoral Commission returns show the National Party was late to disclose donations worth over $30,000 from real estate firm owner Garth Barfoot.

Barfoot donated over $35,000 between May and November, but the donations were not disclosed by the party until March 31.

A National Party spokesperson told Newshub they keep in regular contact with the Electoral Commission.

"We keep in regular contact with the Electoral Commission, particularly in regard to supplying information and explanations on the disclosure of donations," the spokesperson said.

"You'll need to talk to the Electoral Commission for any further comment on this matter."

Unlike the Māori Party, National hasn't been referred to police.

"That's just really sad that the system has its bias and potentially is racist," Wilson told Newshub on Monday.

The Electoral Commission says the same rules are being applied. It hasn't yet decided whether to refer National to the police too.