Auckland investor comes forward as National's Cathedral Club donor

Source: 1News

The man behind a $10,000 Cathedral Club National Party donation is Auckland investor Aaron Bhatnagar.

“It's the strongest possible action the caucus could take,” says Simon Bridges.

Mr Bhatnagar wrote on Facebook today, that given the recent news surrounding the Cathedral Club, he would "like to note that it was an informal pay-your-own-way dinner club that started in 2001, comprised of a small group of Young Nats and old friends from university days.

It comes after leader Simon Bridges was asked about the donation. His office previously directed media questions about the Cathedral Club to the party.

It was reported in the NZ Herald that the donation was attributed to Mr Bridges' return by mistake, instead of to the National Party. 

A spokesperson told Radio NZ yesterday that the donation error was down to the local Tauranga electoral committee and said the Electoral Commission was contacted to seek advice. The return was then amended and re-submitted.

Mr Bhatnagar said he had donated $10,000 and that it was now easier for him to make donations to parties, causes and charities than it was to be a part of committees and campaigns. 

"I'd rather be following my passions of watching my children play football, collecting NZ art, and getting involved in some great NZ tech companies. So I'm happy to be noted as giving $10,000 to the National Party in 2017. In addition, I have supported candidates in National with lesser sized donations in the past."

He said the club of Young Nats and friends would meet in the Cathedral Room of the old Auckland Club, and that its walls had pictures of churches and cathedrals.

"I know this because I was a regular dinner attendee and one of the organisers. The last dinner was probably around 2008".

"The dinner club was all about great conversation with interesting guests across the political divide, such as Rt Hon Winston Peters, Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt, the late advertising supremo David Walden, Chris Trotter, Rodney Hide, Dr Paul Buchanan, Dr Michael Bassett and Michelle Boag."