The Dark Horse actor Cliff Curtis was a no-show at one of the Mana Party's campaign events yesterday and says his "supposed attendance" had been misconstrued and any suggestion he was endorsing the Mana Party was incorrect.
The Mana Party had earlier announced Curtis was among the well known faces "lending their support for the launch and the wider campaign" and would make an appearance at the Internet-Mana Party's public meeting in Rotorua last night. However, Curtis said yesterday, "While I respect my cousin Annette Sykes' commitment in engaging in the political process, I do not endorse or support any political party."
He said he had made a commitment to remain "absolutely apolitical" and his vote would remain private to him.
It has also emerged Internet-Mana's other well-known personalities are being paid to campaign for the alliance. The party recruited hip-hop artist Bill Urale, aka King Kapisi, and former Warrior Wairangi Koopu as "ambassadors" to appeal to disengaged young and Pasifika voters.
An Internet Party spokesman confirmed both were being remunerated for their time, but would not say how much Mr Urale was working on the 'disrupt and mobilise' campaign which the Internet Party was also funding.
Mr Koopu said he was not on a salary, as such: "I am in a representative role. They pay me for my time, my hotels and travel. Above that, it's really about just me being part of this kaupapa."
An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said that such payments would only have to be included as election expenses if they were involved in the production or publication of advertising material.
Ms Sykes had her official Waiariki campaign launch earlier in the day and appeared to believe Curtis would be attending last night. "Cliff and Maisey are coming here as my whanau," she said. Singer Maisey Rika is Ms Sykes' niece.
Curtis is also a friend of Maori Party's Waiariki candidate Te Ururoa Flavell and is understood to have rung Mr Flavell after he saw reports that he was endorsing Mana to make it clear he supported Mr Flavell and Ms Sykes on a personal level.
Ms Sykes said Mana's candidates were not receiving salaries like their Internet Party counterparts, who are being paid the equivalent rate of an MP's annual salary - about $148,000.