Little in big trouble

The Herald reports:

Scenic Hotel Group founders Earl and Lani Hagaman are considering legal action over Labour leader ’s claims about the timing of a donation from Mr Hagaman to the National Party a month before the hotel group was awarded a contract in .

The $101,000 donation was made on 18 September, the last week of the election campaign in 2014. A month later Scenic Hotels won a contract to manage the Matavai Hotel on Niue, which is owned by a trust appointed by Foreign Minister Murray McCully on behalf of the Niue Government.

Mr Little said the timing “stinks to high heaven” and wrote to the Auditor General last week asking for an investigation into the donation and the handling of the contract, which was signed between Scenic Hotel Group and the hotel board in October 2014.

They should. Little has all bit accused them of bribing the NZ Government in order to win the contract.

The Auditor General is yet to decide whether to investigate but in a statement, the Hagamans said they would welcome an investigation from the Auditor General and would cooperate fully.

“In fact we request that an investigation occurs urgently in order to remove any doubt about the integrity and honesty of our name,” said Mrs Hagaman.

I really really hope the Auditor-General does investigate because it will end badly for Andrew Little. The highlight will be the testimony from the father of Jacinda Ardern as to what he thinks of being accused of being part of a corrupt bribe deal.

Lani Hagaman said the management contract for Matavai Resort Niue was gained by Scenic Hotel Group in an open and contestable process against other hotel groups.

The couple were also considering other legal options to address Mr Little’s attack.

“I can assure the public that for us the only thing that will ‘stink to the high heavens’ will be smell of roses which blossom from the fertiliser Andrew Little likes to spread around to gain his own notoriety.”

The politics of smear.

Ian Fitzgerald, the chairman of the Matavai Niue Limited which runs the Matavai has also now spoken, saying he would have “absolutely no concerns” if the Auditor-General looked into the process.

Mr Fitzgerald is one of four board members appointed by the Niue Tourism Property Trust to oversee the running of the hotel, which $18 million of New Zealand aid money has been invested in. The agreement was negotiated and signed between Scenic Hotels and the board rather than the Trust itself. Mr Fitzgerald said he was unaware Mr Hagaman had donated to the National Party and the board had only dealt with Scenic Hotels Group’s managing director, Brendan Taylor. It was in contract negotiations with Scenic Group for six months before the contract was awarded – well before the donation was made.

Have a think about how many people must have been in the corrupt bribe conspiracy for it to have worked.

First of all you’d have McCully, and the two Hagamans.

Then all three members of the Niue Tourism Property Trust which includes Ross Ardern, an MFAT Deputy Secretary and former High Commissioner Mark Blumsky.

But they didn’t decide the contract – the board they appointed did. So all four members of the board would need to be in on the conspiracy also.

So that’s a minimum of 10 people all in on the conspiracy.

Mrs Hagaman said in the past the couple had voted for Labour.

“One of the privileges of being a New Zealander is the ability to have freedom of choice and vote or donate to any political party one chooses. In the past both Earl and I have voted Labour but that was when the party had strong morals and direction and did not practice bully tactics on innocent people.”

If I was Angry Andy I’d consider apologising to the Hagamans and Mr Ardern and others.

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