Donghua Liu. Photo NZ Herald
A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the
National Party led to a minister's resignation, also made a
secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party -- and hosted a
Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.
The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of
"cash for access" deals with Donghua Liu, who received
citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice
Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister
But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a
Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen
Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party
The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then
Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of
Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay,
confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu's
cement company while on holiday in China. But he said he was
not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on
official business as a minister.
"I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see
some sights ... and I made a side trip to Chongqing -- I had
not been to the city before.
"I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his
business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to
be a dinner he had put on for all his staff."
However, Mr Barker could not remember how he came to be
invited to visit Liu in Chongqing.
He said it was "probable" he also had dinner with Liu in New
"I am trying to recall events of over seven years ago, so
it's a little challenging. But it can't have been a regular
event, because if it was I would recall that. In fact my
contact with Liu fell away quite quickly."
Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners
are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is
Mike Williams, Labour's president at the time, said he did
not remember seeing Liu at any fundraisers he attended. "If
he was a significant individual donor to the party, I would
have probably known about it. But the name honestly doesn't
ring a bell at all."
Liu, who has pleaded guilty to two domestic violence charges
and is seeking to be discharged without conviction, was
unable to be reached for comment.
At the time of the donation and dinner with Mr Barker, Liu
had permanent residency -- granted in 2005 by Labour's
Associate Immigration Minister, Damien O'Connor, against
official advice -- but was not yet a New Zealand citizen.
The revelation that he later made a $15,000 donation to
Labour comes after MPs attacked National for "cash for
access" deals with donors.
Labour leader David Cunliffe said he was unaware that Liu was
a donor to his party, but that would not change the criticism
levelled at the National Government, "which was that a
minister of the Crown involved himself in a police
operational matter and it's also the case that both the Prime
Minister and Minister of Immigration have been considering
policy changes at the request of Mr Liu".
Mr Cunliffe doubted there was any connection between Liu's
residency bid and his donation two years later.
Mr Williamson was forced to quit his ministerial portfolios
last month after the Herald revealed he contacted police over
the domestic violence charges against Liu, who was recorded
as donating $22,000 to National and was a regular at party
fundraisers. He also had a personal meeting with Immigration
Minister Michael Woodhouse last year in an attempt to secure
relaxed immigration rules for rich migrants.
A senior New Zealand police officer based in China is now
investigating Liu's role as a witness in a bribery trial and
subsequent citizenship application in New Zealand.
A Herald investigation revealed Liu gave cut-price real
estate deals to a Chinese politician and received business
favours in return. Liu said he was not charged in connection
to the corruption case but gave evidence at the 2006 trial
that led to a 13-year jail sentence for the political leader
convicted of accepting bribes.
But his role as a witness has raised questions about his
background in China and what was disclosed to New Zealand
authorities when he was granted residency in 2005 and
citizenship in 2010 -- each time against the recommendation
Immigration New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs
and the police have shared information on the case and the
Herald understands Superintendent Hamish McCardle, the New
Zealand police liaison officer based in Beijing, has been
asked to check records in China.
- Jared Savage of the NZ Herald