On Friday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released documents on minister Judith Collins' October visit to China. During the visist Collins had dinner with Stone Shi, owner of NZ food company Oravida, and an unnamed Chinese offical. She also visited Oravida headquarters, an event which the company used in promotional material. Collins' husband is a director of Oravida and the company has made substantial donations to the National Party, which had led to allegation of conflict of interest.
The following document was released to activist Penny Bright. It includes 102 pages of scanned documents and correspondence (with redactions) related to the dinner, the Oravida visit and Collins' trip to China.
On page 85 the purpose of the Oravida visit is described as "To increase the profile of a successful importer and distributor of New Zealand products into China".
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OCR scan of cover letter (may contain errors)
Dear Penny Bright
Thank you for your email of 22 April 2014 requesting, under the Official Information Act, the following information relating to the involvement of New Zealand’s Ambassador to China in Hon Judith ColIins’s dinner with Oravida:
1) Who invited Carl Worker, the NZ Ambassador to China, to this Oravida private‘ dinner?
2) Why the NZ Ambassador to China, Car/ Worker, declined to attend this Oravida private ‘dinner?
3) ln what capacity did Minister of Justice Judith Collins speak to the Ambassador about the dinner the following day and to/d him ‘nothing had occurred that was untoward and it was just a very private friendly dinner that was short’' i.e: as a private citizen, or as the Minister of Justice?
4) Did Judith Collins speak to Carl Worker in his capacity as NZ Ambassador to China, regarding this Oravida private‘ dinner?
5) Please provide copies of ALL information, briehng notes7emai/s/notes of telephone messages/memos/minutes/reports (and the like) between Judith Collins (Minister of Justice) and Car/ Worker (NZ Ambassador to China) relating to this matter.
The Minister of Justice invited the Ambassador to the dinner, but he declined as the dinner was a private event.
Hon Judith Collins spoke to the Ambassador about the dinner in her capacity as the Minister of Justice. As the Minister was on an official visit at the invitation of the Chinese Government, all her interactions with the Ambassador and Embassy staff were in that capacity.
l understand that Ms Collins spoke to Mr Worker in his capacity as New Zealand Ambassador to China about the Oravida dinner.
Neither my office nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade holds any written communications between the Minister of Justice and the NZ Ambassador relating to this matter. However, copies of some email communications between staff in Hon Judith Collins’s ofnce and NZ Embassy staff, including the Ambassador, are included in the attached consolidated set of documents which are being provided to a number of other OIA requesters who have submitted similar requests for information in relation to Hon Judith Collins’s ministerial visit to China.
Some portions of these documents have been withheld under the following sections of the Official information Act: 6(a), to avoid prejudicing the international relations of the New Zealand Government; 9(2)(a), to protect the privacy of natural persons; 9(2)(ba), to protect information that would prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or is the subject of the information; 9(2)(g)(i), to protect the free and frank expression of opinions by departments; and 9(2)(g)(ii), to protect officials against improper pressure or harassment. Relevant sections of the Act under which the information has been withheld have been noted in the documents.
ln addition, some material has been omitted as it is not within the scope of the OIA requests.
Under section 28(3) of the Official information Act you have the right to request the Ombudsman to investigate and review the withholding of information.
Minister of Foreign Affairs