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NZ First board membership closely guarded

NZ First board membership closely guarded ahead of coalition consultations

By Pattrick Smellie

Oct. 10 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand First party president Brent Catchpole has reluctantly agreed to make public the membership of the party's board of directors, who leader Winston Peters has said will be consulted before any government formation proposal is settled.

Unlike the National and Labour parties, NZ First's website gives no details on the membership of its non-parliamentary governance structures although the Electoral Commission carries the party's constitution, which opens with a commitment to "open and accountable government" and "consensus".

The constitution details the composition of a 12-member board that includes the party leader, Winston Peters and his deputy, Ron Mark, as well as the president (Catchpole), vice-presidents for the North and South Islands, a party secretary (Anne Martin, listed on the commission's website), a treasurer, an ex officio director-general, and six elected representatives.

However, BusinessDesk's search for the identities of other NZ First board members hit a few roadblocks.

Peters' press secretary not unreasonably declined to respond as it was a party political matter and referred the question to party secretary Anne Martin, who passed on the party email address for Catchpole, a former NZ First MP and current Papakura community board chair.

Two emails to that address went unanswered, but Catchpole's contact details showed up on the Auckland Council community boards website.

Contacted by that route, he was not enthusiastic about releasing the names of the governing members of the political party holding the key to whether or not the National or Labour Party will lead the next government, with a deadline of Thursday imposed by Peters for a decision.

"That's not information many members of the board would want passed out," said Catchpole. For some, it was "personal" that they were members of the NZ First board although their membership was "not a secret" and their identities would become clear once they had been consulted and a government formed.

"You’ll no doubt see them all when that happens," said Catchpole, whose main concern appeared to be a media attempt to contact the board ahead of the confidential coalition talks being concluded.

There had once been a list of the board on the party's website but it had been removed, he said.

Perhaps sensing a mismatch between the public interest in who will help the NZ First leadership decide which way to jump and not releasing their names, Catchpole undertook to check his party email overnight and "follow up your request".

Asked whether that meant the list would be supplied, Catchpole said: "I can send that to you. Yes."

(BusinessDesk)

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