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Nats return Greenpeace art to sender

Friday 10 May 2013 11:44 a.m.

The artworks were made as part of a plea from Greenpeace to save the Maui dolphin (file)

The artworks were made as part of a plea from Greenpeace to save the Maui dolphin (file)

By Laura McQuillan

Several National MPs refused to accept original artworks as part of a Greenpeace plea to save the endangered Maui dolphin, returning the gifts or giving them away.

The organisation gave 55 handmade woodblock prints by Kiwi artist Sheyne Tuffery to MPs across parliament last year, representing the estimated number of adult Maui dolphins still alive.

A new disclosure of MPs' pecuniary interests reveals four National MPs - David Carter, Craig Foss, Michael Woodhouse and Jo Goodhew - gave theirs back.

Other Nats also offloaded the gifts - Chris Auchinvole gave his to colleague Paul Goldsmith, while Paul Hutchison gave his to a surf lifesaving club.

The Parliamentary Service has three artworks on its hands, thanks to Prime Minister John Key, Judith Collins and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples - whose offsider, Tariana Turia, gave hers to a sustainability organisation.

Tuffery created the artworks after the government last year called for public feedback on options to mitigate threats to the dolphins.

More than 20,000 people made submissions.

Greenpeace says it's disappointed by MPs apparently shirking the issue.

"If those MPs were not prepared to take the urgent action needed to save Mauis, the prints would forever be a reminder of their failure," a spokesman told NZ Newswire.

"Perhaps some returned their prints to avoid this 'albatross around their neck'."

Some MPs told Greenpeace they were returning the prints because they were valued at more than $500 - the threshold above which MPs must declare gifts on the pecuniary interests register - despite being told Tuffery produced the prints at the cost of the materials only, which was "far below $500".

MPs received very few other gifts throughout the year.

Mr Key, predictably, got the most freebies - including cognac from Russian President Vladimir Putin, cufflinks and a chess set from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, and a karaoke machine and bicycle from Philippines President Benigno Aquino.

Labour leader David Shearer, who came under fire for "brain fade" for failing to declare a US bank account containing more than $50,000 in previous years, declared the account on the 2012 register.

NZN

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