The New Zealand Herald is standing by one of its reporters after alleged threats made against him arising out of his reporting on the Maori Party's Botany candidate Wetex Kang.

Defamatory comments and alleged threats have been posted on Chinese social media against senior Herald journalist Lincoln Tan since Tan reported that Kang had offered virtual credits in "red envelopes" to his supporters on social media.

The Electoral Commission later cleared Kang and his supporters of bribery because of the small credits involved, but it warned candidates against using the virtual red envelopes to promote election advertising in future.

Herald editor Murray Kirkness said the Maori Party was now investigating defamatory comments and alleged threats against Tan.


"The statements were made to a group following Mr Kang's campaign on social media app, WeChat, and to Chinese media outlets," Kirkness said.

"The statements were reported by Mr Tan and NZME to the Police and the Maori Party last week.

"NZME and the NZ Herald fully support Lincoln Tan in this matter. Mr Tan is an experienced and respected senior journalist for the NZ Herald, and NZME stands by his reporting in relation to Mr Kang's campaign as fair, balanced and ethical journalism.

"In our view it is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a person running for public office to make threatening and defamatory statements about anyone, let alone a journalist merely reporting on matters in the public interest in the lead-up to the national election.

"NZME is expecting a response from the Maori Party executive today regarding their investigation into this matter.​"