Electoral donations for 2022: National received more than 10 times what Labour got

That's one serious war chest.
That's one serious war chest. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The National Party's war chest was injected with a large dollop of cash in 2022, with the Electoral Commission on Monday reporting it received more than $5 million in donations that year compared to Labour's roughly $419,000.

The annual party returns for 2022 have just been released and, after a number of high-profile donations last year, National has unsurprisingly received the most at $5,116,035.63.

For the year ending December 31, 2022, parties were required to report the donations and loans they received, including naming all people who donated more than $15,000 and how much they gave over the year, the total amount of anonymous donations under $1500, as well as some other donations of up to $15,000.

For the 2023 annual returns, to be reported next year, the parties will also have to include the number and total of donations under $1500 that weren't made anonymously.

The annual returns were due on May 1 and all parties had to make a return, even if they didn't receive any donations or loans. Freedoms New Zealand and the New Nation Party didn't have to file a return as they didn't register until this year.

National's return reveals that the biggest donations came from Nicholas Mowbray of the Zuru toy company fame and New Zealand's wealthiest man Graeme Hart - $250,000 each.

Of National's donations, more than $2.6 million came from people donating more than $15,000. There were also more than $10,000 in anonymous donations not exceeding $1500, nearly $1 million in donations exceeding $1500 but not more than $5000, and more than $1.5 million in donations exceeding $5000 but not hitting $15,000.

National's haul last year far exceeds what it received in 2021 - just a little more than $1 million.

The ACT Party pulled in more than $2 million with an assortment of rich listers, including Hart again, each giving the party $100,000 donations. 

Labour received just $419,364.66 in donations, with the biggest payment coming from former judge Robert Smellie. According to the return, it received $3116.20 from anonymous donations not exceeding $1500, more than $85,000 in donations between $1500 and $5000, and nearly $88,000 in donations exceeding $5000, but not more than $15,000.

The Greens received $413,359.89, with donations from the MPs making up a large bulk - MPs in the party donate a portion of their income.

New Zealand First received a little more than $317,000 despite being out of Parliament and also got an $81,310 loan from leader Winston Peters, while Te Pāti Māori got nearly $38,000.

For the 2023 returns, due in April next year, parties will also have to name the donors of donations of more than $5000, the number and total of donations under $1500 that are not made anonymously, and separately report on the total amount of monetary and in-kind donations.

"The party secretary is responsible for recording donations and loans and filing a return that is true and correct," the Electoral Commission said.

"The return must include the name and address of any donor who has donated a total of more than $15,000 in one or more payments in the past year.

"Each party is required to have their return audited and to submit the auditor's report with the annual return. The auditor must state whether, in their opinion, the return fairly reflects donations received and loans entered into by the party secretary."

The full returns can be found here.