Revealed: Labour’s signed-wine fundraiser

By Toby Manhire In Politics

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Donghua Liu; his partner Juan Zhang with Rick Barker; Old Sofrana House.

Donghua Liu; his partner Juan Zhang with Rick Barker; Old Sofrana House.

That mysterious Labour Party fundraiser from 2007?

Donghua Liu has said he paid $100,000 for a bottle of signed wine at a fundraiser (on 3/6/2007, according to his statement, published by the Herald on Sunday), and Labour have responded by insisting they have no record of any such donation, nor any such fundraiser (the backstory is summarised here).

What if it wasn’t June 3, or the other 3/6, March 6, but Saturday June 30?

The Labour Party called it their “Mid-Winter Celebration”, and it was a big, glittering event.

The auction was conducted by Webbs at Old Sofrana House in Britomart, Auckland. According to the run sheet, guests were welcomed by then party president Mike Williams and addressed by then prime minister Helen Clark.

Lots going under the hammer included some very impressive paintings and other artwork, a signed copy of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, stills from Bro’Town, a “night of decadence at SkyCity”, a harbour cruise with Chris Carter, a “catered private dinner with prime minister the Rt Hon Helen Clark”, to provide “a unique opportunity for intimate conversation around the table with the nation’s highest elected official”, and – drum roll – a “bottle of wine signed by Helen Clark”.

“Toast the achievements of the Fifth Labour Government, or keep it as political souvenir. This 200X bottle of xxx xxxxx carries the PM’s signature on its label which makes it a special drop indeed.”

(The dates are crossed out in the catalogue as above.)

The catalogue, shared with the Listener by Auckland blogger and critic Paul Litterick, who was a waiter at the event, seems very likely to describe the bottle of wine that has caused such controversy.

It shouldn’t be difficult from here for the Labour Party to ascertain who was the successful bidder was, and what was paid for it.

Update, 5.05pm:
Rob Salmond, an adviser to the Labour party, says this is not the bottle of wine we’re looking for:

Update, 9pm: An important note from Jared Savage, the Herald reporter who has been leading the running on the wider story. He says there is a date-stamp on the photograph of Liu and partner showing 3/6, which supports the date on the Liu statement


Mid-Winter Celebration


See also: Liu and Labour – ten theories on the strange donations case

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