A Labour Party candidate threatened to bring "negative media coverage" to the business owners of a night market after he failed to get free space and access for leader Jacinda Ardern.
Barry Kirker, Labour's candidate for Pakuranga, had emailed the Auckland Night Market owners requesting a visit for Ardern to campaign at the Pakuranga night market on September 2.
But he was told there was a change in policy and that political parties this year were being charged between $300 and $500 this year for "exclusive" campaigning at the markets.
Kirker was told Ardern could not campaign on the date he wanted because the National Party had already booked a spot on the evening in question.
The Labour candidate wrote an angry email in response saying: "You (sic) shameless attempt to profit off the elect reflects poorly on your organisation.
"There could be some negative media coverage coming your way about this."
Kirker also said it was very concerning for democracy when parties were being charged high fees to access to market-goers.
"This will mean only National Party can afford to meet people in Pakuranga night market and that your customers will have less options," Kirker said.
Market owner Paul de Jonge said he was shocked at the email and the "bully tactics" of the Labour candidate.
"This is a party that is wanting to charge royalties for water, but they expect things to be given to them free of charge," de Jonge said.
"I feel the threat of negative media is just over the top, and is really a bully boy tactic."
The decision to have "exclusive rights" for a single political party to campaign on any given night was because parties who campaigned at the night markets before the last election were "disruptive", de Jonge said.
"They were chanting and shouting, sometimes against the other parties, and this really affected our stall holders and customers," de Jonge said.
The cost to political parties, which is about double that of food stalls, includes a prime double spot with table and chairs, and all night access for party members to mingle with the market crowd.
The company runs six night markets, located in Mt Wellington, Botany, Henderson, Papatoetoe, Pakuranga and Glenfield.
Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton said Kirker was frustrated at the change in policy by the market operators.
"He did not intend for his comments about media coverage to be taken that way," Kirton said.
"He was trying to convey, perhaps not in the best way, that there would be a group of people disappointed by the decision."
Kirton said he could understand the impact of political parties on the market operation.
"I've been in touch with Barry and he has sent a message to the organisers to clarify his comments."