15 Apr 2014

Key says ACT event not endorsement

10:38 pm on 15 April 2014

Prime Minister John Key says it's a step too far to say his attendance at an ACT Party fundraiser is a nod to National voters to support ACT's Epsom candidate at the election.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

ACT says instead of a 'cup of tea' this year, John Key will be the guest of honour at a fundraising event for candidate David Seymour.

In the past, John Key has used a meet and greet at a local cafe to endorse his party's allies, most notably United Future in Ohariu and ACT in Epsom.

In the weeks leading up to the 2011 general election, John Key and ACT's John Banks met on over a cup of tea at an Auckland cafe to signal to National supporters that they should vote for Mr Banks in Epsom.

This year, Mr Key says, if he decides to make an endorsement he will be more straightforward, and do so directly.

And he says his presence at ACT's Epsom fundraiser should not be seen as a signal to voters.

"I think that's a step too far at this point. We've worked very constructively with ACT and I've made it quite clear that I think they're one of the parties we could work with post the 2014 election. But what accommodations we will or won't do in Epsom is a decision for another day."

Mr Key is also also defending his presence at a $5000-a-head Maori Party fundraiser two weeks ago, saying he's often accessible to people who couldn't afford to attend such events.

National MP Tau Henare said the Maori Party should be able to raise money in whichever way it chooses.

"It's a bit bigoted to think that the Maori Party are not allowed to have the National Party come along to raise money for them. What are they supposed to do - stand outside KFC all day?"

The Maori Party says the dinner shows the party has a close relationship with National, but adds it could and would work with any party in government.