15 Apr 2014

Maori Party plays down PM's dinner

8:30 am on 15 April 2014

The Maori Party denies it is wedded to the National Party, despite the Prime Minister being the star turn at one of its fundraising dinners.

The Maori Party invited 15 people to the $5000 a seat dinner in Auckland about two weeks ago, promising the chance to chat confidentially with John Key.

Party president Naida Glavish agrees the dinner shows her party has a close relationship with National, but says it could work with any party in government.

Ms Glavish says it would have no qualms putting on a similar event again.

"We would do whatever we need to do to fundraise to help our people through the elections and if it requires another fundraiser like this one we would consider it," she says.

Ms Glavish says she is not sure who the next speaker would be. She says the party is grateful to Mr Key for speaking at the fundraiser.

Party vice president Ken Mair told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the guests were not buying access to the Prime Minister.

"That's claptrap, the bottom line is that it was a fundraiser for the Maori Party, it was open and transparent, there was no deals done in any way whatsoever," he says.

Mr Mair says the fundraiser does not show his party intends to work with National again after the next election.

However, Labour Party MP Shane Jones told Morning Report voters will take a dim view of Mr Key's appearance at the dinner.

He says it is hypocritical of the Maori Party to criticise Hone Harawira linking with the new Internet Party while searching out its own lifeline with National.

He says former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark never did similar fundraising for the Green Party or Jim Anderton's Progressive Party.

The Prime Minister's Office says Mr Key does attend functions for parties National has a relationship with.