Let's get real. It frankly doesn't matter how much film-maker Sir Peter Jackson pumped into Andy Foster's Wellington mayoralty campaign.
What really matters is that Foster now has an opportunity to inject leadership into a council that has come to be seen by many Wellingtonians as a Government puppet.
Politically based claims that Foster is a Jackson puppet have helped fuel articles by New Zealand-based journalists for the New York Times and the Guardian who have spotlighted the film-maker's influence.
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But Jackson's donation was legal. It was transparent. It was from a Wellingtonian.
Importantly, it was not via the backdoor through some shadowy faceless trust or the proceeds of an "auction" — fund-raising methods employed by the two successful mayoral candidates for Auckland since it became a super-city.
Jackson even turned up at Foster's campaign launch. Cue outrage from the wet critics who take any chance they can to poke a stick at the film-maker.
But whether Foster will get to introduce the sanity many hope for into Wellington's local Government, currently hinges on just 62 votes.
That's because Wellington City Council yesterday released the final count showing Foster's 503 vote lead over incumbent Justin Lester at last Saturday's preliminary count had been reduced to such a slim lead that Lester was talking about a recount.
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The New York Times wrote the filmmaker's intervention in a mayoral race, part of an effort to block a housing plan, was unheard-of in a country where money and fame are usually wielded lightly.
Chimed the Guardian, in an article headlined "Profoundly wrong: Wellington's new mayor denies being Peter Jackson 'puppet'," went on to say Foster says financial backing from the Lord of the Rings director was not reason for his victory in New Zealand capital.
It is true that Foster does not support plans for new development on the shores of Wellington's Shelly Bay and does support a film museum — two of Jackson's passions.
Jackson even went online through his personal Facebook page to detail his opposition to the proposed housing development in Shelly Bay, which is just over the hill from his film compound.
The new mayor's own position was already clear before Jackson put up the funding. And irrespective, he does not get to make sole decisions on such issues.
What is more egregious is the snivelling way in which the former Wellington City Council bowed down to the Coalition Government's wishes over the capital city's transport developments.
That's the so-called strategy where the Greens are speculated to have had undue influence over the Government's decision to push back construction of Wellington's second Mt Victoria tunnel in favour of mass transit options.
The Government is refusing to release a letter sent to Transport Minister Phil Twyford from Associate Transport Minister and Green Minister Julie Ann Genter in March over the Let's Get Wellington Moving project.
Genter argues she wrote in her capacity as the Greens transport spokesperson, not as a minister, and withheld the letter to maintain the ability of government parties to consult each other, and have "free and frank" communications.
But it was in fact it was written on her ministerial letterhead.
Even though the Government rode roughshod over Wellingtonians' interests, Lester sat on the sidelines of this debate.
It was not until last month, during an election campaign forum, that he decided that the letter should be released.
This is where Foster could really make a mark.
He could strive to galvanise the council members to stand up for Wellington, not simply the governmental interests of fellow travellers from the Labour Party and the Greens Party who want to impose a transport solution that does not address the city's needs.
But instead of heralding the opportunity that is now there (assuming Foster is not successfully challenged) there are howling paroxysms of rage over Jackson's backing.
Those critics might consider that Len Brown's 2010 and 2013 election campaigns for the Auckland Mayoralty were substantially bought and paid for by donors who funnelled their contributions through the New Auckland Council Trust.
Brown chalked up more then $750,000 through the trust for his two successful campaigns ($499,000 to his 2010 mayoral campaign and $273,375 in 2013).
Brown did not run in 2016 after his team told him he would receive no financial backing, political support or volunteers to erect billboards and deliver pamphlets for a campaign where his sex life would be centre stage.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff ran instead with Labour Party support.
His returns show he received $366,115 in donations through fund-raising auctions in 2016. The Herald reported that at one Chinese dinner a book, two bottles of wine and a $5 note were the star lots, raising $250,000 for Goff's campaign.
About 350 people attended the fundraising dinner at the Imperial Palace restaurant in Ellerslie where bidding on a book, The Governance of China, written and signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, started at $5000 and sold to a phone bidder from China for $150,000.
"The bidder, I don't know the individual personally, he is a New Zealand resident, if not a New Zealand citizen," Goff told RNZ's Morning Report, after his then rival Vic Crone had questioned it publicly in September 2016.
Last month a formal complaint was laid to the Auckland electoral officer over Goff's 2016 election expense declaration specifically related to the declaration of $366,115 cash donations from the fund-raising auctions.
Auckland's electoral officer Dale Ofsoske has confirmed he has, as is required, passed it on to police.
In Jackson's case his donation — through associated companies — is explicit.
There'll be no complaint to the electoral officer. But he has effectively been attacked in the New York Times for wielding too much influence.
Is it any wonder business people think twice before "backing democracy" through open donations?