GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Money, Politics and Influence


I know it happens everywhere. If you have money you get to bend the ear of politicians. And yes, compared with some other countries money doesn’t talk quite as loudly in NZ politics- but it does talk.

Two days before it happened last Sunday I received an invitation to:

“An Evening with Michael Wood featuring special Guest Auckland Mayor Phil Goff who will give an address about the future of our city and answer questions from the audience.”

I was informed

“This event is for all Businesses but restricted in numbers to 100-150 persons and will be catered with food and drinks. 

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The event will be attended by VIP Guests, Community and Business Leaders and organisations from all over Auckland.

There will be cultural performances showing the diversity of Auckland city.

Venue: Mandarin Palace Seafood Restaurant
Date: Sunday, 15th September 2019
Venue Address: 9 Aviemore Drive, Highland Park, Auckland
Time: 6:00 – 10:00 PM
VIP Tables (10 seats / table, 2 tables only): $1000
General Table (10 seats / table): $600
General Admission: $60 each limited “

The event , the ad said was authorised by MP Michael Wood.

2 tables of 10 Very Important People at $1000 each? ($20,000?)
1 table of 10 People of Lesser Importance at $600 per person? ($6000?)
Say 100 Even Less Important People at $60 per person? ($6000?)
A potential haul then of $32,000 minus expenses from that evening if the prices quoted was per person. If not, it’s $8600 minus expenses.

Anyway you read it , if this was a fund raiser then into whose campaign chest did this money go?

Michael Wood’s? Phil Goff’s? The NZ Labour Party’s? NZ-Indian-Origin Labour (who seem to have organised the event)?

I leave the question open because, frankly, while I could spend time chasing down the answers I have no doubt it’s all perfectly legal.

My point is – if you think the rich don’t pay to get the ear of politicians to push their own agendas in our country, think again.

Needless to say I did not take up the invitation.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. If as you suggest the event is organised by the Indian community (which is pro-Labour) but marketed to the Chinese community (which is pro-National) then it would appear to be an attempt to cross ethnic lines in order to broaden the support for Phil Goff within the Asian immigrant demographic. Perhaps Phil’s camp is worried about a perceived “groundswell of support” for John Tamihere?

  2. As I read the ad the VIP tables are $1000 per table: ie $100 per seat. Similarly, the general table is $60 per seat. Though I suppose I could be wrong.

  3. Hi Bryan. You have mis-interpreted the ticket price to this event by a factor of ten. The tickets were between $60-$100 per head. It was basically a standard dinner and talk political fundraiser and is the kind of event that most politicians on the centre-left have run to fund their campaigns for years.
    I understand the need to guard against big money as a tool for accessing politicians, but I don’t think this event falls into that category.

  4. Can I ask? In a general sort of way…
    What is it about goofy men in goofy suits? Who says the tie + shirt+jacket = de rigueur???
    Whenever I see a fellow in a shirt+tie+jacket I think ” That fucker’s a crook! ” Or a real e-snake agent. Therefore, that fucker’s a crook. S’very funny that. The way that works.

    • I think that before someone of importance is interviewed on television, he removes his tie. In teeveedom it is tielessness that is de rigueur.

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