15 Nov 2019

Powerful New Zealand First figure helped set up a forestry company that wanted govt funds

From Morning Report, 7:10 am on 15 November 2019

A powerful New Zealand First figure helped establish a forestry company that then pushed for money from two key funding streams controlled by a New Zealand First Minister.

An RNZ investigation has found Brian Henry, lawyer for Winston Peters and judicial officer for the New Zealand First party, became a founding director of NZ Future Forest Products in March.

The company immediately began its bid for money from the Provincial Growth Fund and also sought funding from the One Billion Trees programme - both overseen by New Zealand First Minister Shane Jones.

Both funding bids were unsuccessful and Mr Jones says he withdrew from the process after being advised by the Cabinet Office he had a conflict of interests.

But the National Party says there are more questions to answer and it is calling for the Auditor General to investigate.

Journalists Guyon Espiner and Kate Newton from RNZ's in-depth team have been investigating.