Michael Wood in hot water over holding Auckland Airport shares, National alleges breach of rules

  • Updated
  • 06/06/2023

National is claiming Transport Minister Michael Wood can't be trusted after he has pledged to sell the Auckland Airport shares no one knew he had. 

Wood didn't publicly declare his $13,000 worth of shares until last year - even keeping them under lock when stepping up as the Transport Minister. 

A spokesperson for the Minister said he believed if the funds were held in a trust, they didn't need to be declared.

However, National's Paul Goldsmith isn't buying it.

"That is a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual. His position may be untenable," said Goldsmith, National's acting Auckland spokesperson.

He said it was a major conflict of interest that will impact the Ministers' investments in transport.

Michael Wood, left, and Paul Goldsmith.
Michael Wood, left, and Paul Goldsmith. Photo credit: AM

"Mr Wood's explanation that he believed the shares were held in a family trust is both incredible and irrelevant," Goldsmith said. "Is he saying he did not disclose them because he thought he could keep the investment a secret from Parliament and Cabinet?

"Prime Minister Chris Hipkins should be upfront about how long he has known about this and whether he finds Mr Wood's explanation credible."

Hipkins told AM he wasn't aware of the shares and was taking steps to investigate further.

"One of the things I'll be doing today is just going back and checking to make sure that, if any decisions were taken around Auckland Airport in which it could've been deemed... a conflict, I'll be just checking to make sure that all of the appropriate action was taken at that time," the Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

"Ministers declare to the Cabinet office any interests and any potential conflicts that they might hold. When I do Cabinet portfolio allocations, I discuss the allocations I'm proposing with the Cabinet office and they flag up any issues that are of concern - they didn't flag up any particular issues of concern... in this particular regard.

"It would be better if a Minister of Transport did not hold shares in an airport - it is not necessarily a showstopper in terms of a conflict of interest, it's all to do with how the conflict is managed."

ACT leader David Seymour didn't believe Wood's decision to not declare his shares influenced any Ministerial decisions.

"On the other hand, it's up to the public to judge that and he should've declared it," Seymour told AM.

Wood's office said the Minister was now in the process of getting rid of the shares.

"The minister holds 1530 shares in Auckland Airport worth approximately $13,000, and 343 shares in Contact Energy worth approximately $2700.

"He regrets the process of divesting these shares has taken some time."