The Labour Party will monetise its party conference by running a $1500-a-head fundraising business seminar in Whanganui on Friday where ministers are gathering for the party's annual conference.

Wealthy businesses and advocates are expected to help raise at least $40,000 for Labour's campaign coffers as they rub shoulders with a wide range of the party's ministers and MPs, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

But struggling NGOs will be attending as well at no charge.

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It is understood that some of attendees will include people who have found it difficult to get appointments with ministers in the Beehive.

Officially, the MPs will be speaking in their capacity as MPs, not ministers.

For example, Trade Minister David Parker will be speaking as a Labour MP but primarily about trade.

Ardern denied it was paying for access – a practice that Labour has previously criticised National for.

"No – if it were, you'd expect everyone was [paying] and NGOs and charities are not," she told reporters in Auckland today.

"There are people who are attending at no cost. It's not unusual that those who are able to pay a fee pay a fee to attend and those who are not will not."

She said she had just been to two business events where had been no charge to mix and mingle with her.

Ardern and ministers frequently speak at lunches for paying guests run by commercial institutions, for example on Thursday last week Ardern spoke at a $350 a head lunch run by the Trans Tasman Business Circle.


The event will run from 10am to 3pm. Labour general Secretary Andre Anderson said about 40 business people would be taking part among the 50 participants.

Business New Zealand chief executive Kirk Hope is one of those attending and will be appearing on one of the panels, as is Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is expected to attend as well, although his office has not confirmed that.

The event is not open to the news media.

In 2014 the National Party got into strife over revelations it was running what it called a "Cabinet Club" for which members paid up to $10,000 a year to attend functions at which ministers spoke.

In 2013 Labour charged outside organisations a fee for setting up a stall at its annual conference venue in Christchurch.

The Labour Party is holding its conference this weekend in Whanganui.
The Labour Party is holding its conference this weekend in Whanganui.