A Labour Party presidential hopeful is promising that if elected, one of his priorities would be to establish a capital fund – the very thing the National and New Zealand First Foundations were set up for.

Tane Phillips, a senior key backroom player for Labour, is promising a "capital fund" would be a priority for him if he's elected as Labour president this weekend.

He would not elaborate on his plans when approached by the Herald and said presidential candidates were not allowed to speak to the media ahead of tomorrow's election.

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Phillips, who is currently Labour's Senior Maori Vice-President, is one of three candidates standing for the leadership.

The position became vacant after former president, Nigel Haworth, resigned over his handling of sexual assault allegations within the party.

Ardern will kick off the conference in Whanganui this evening and is expected to address the sexual assault scandal in her opening remarks.

Little is known about the fund Phillips is promising to make a priority, although the usual aim of a capital fund is to leave the money untouched so revenue can be earned from the interest.

This, in turn, helps to fund party operations.

But in his pitch for president document, he promises to ensure that Labour was "fighting fit for the 2020 election".

"And that includes financially fit. Establishing a capital fund is a priority for me, and I'll tap my wide connections in the Maori world and Maori economy in an effort to help make this happens."

This comes as the Electoral Commission's investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation continues, amid questions being raised about party donations.


Meanwhile, documents obtained by RNZ this week show how the NZ First Foundation operates, why it was established and for what purpose.

They show the foundation was set up to seek donors who would be offered a "tiered donation structure with benefits adhering to each tier".

They also contain a recommendation that NZ First leader Winston Peters "select an appropriate legal adviser" to develop the foundation, and that Peters was present at a March 2017 board of directors' meeting, where the board agreed to the concept of establishing the foundation.

The National Party also makes use of a foundation, but according to party president Peter Goodfellow, National discloses all donations over $15,000 to the foundation as though it were to the party.

Ardern has been careful to stay out of this saga, telling media repeatedly last week that it was not her place to comment on the New Zealand First donation saga.