Hager's revelations proving a hot seller in city

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 15/08/2014
Nicky Hager
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ
REVELATIONS: Author Nicky Hager launched his latest book, Dirty Politics, in Wellington.
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Palmerston North residents who were quick to snap up copies of Nicky Hager's new book will have found within its pages reference to the 2011 election campaign in the city.

Hager released Dirty Politics in Wellington on Wednesday night. The book was on shelves in Palmerston North bookstores yesterday morning but had sold out by mid-morning.

A chapter in the book explores how political adviser Simon Lusk worked with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to manipulate National Party candidate selections.

It includes the claim that Lusk paid Slater to help select his preferred candidate to represent National in Palmerston North.

While the candidate is not named in the email, the author suggests it is Leonie Hapeta, who won selection for National in 2011 before going on to lose at the general election to incumbent Iain Lees-Galloway, from Labour.

Hapeta, who was elected to the city council last year, confirmed to the Manawatu Standard that Lusk was involved in her 2011 campaign.

Hapeta said yesterday she had met Lusk on two or three occasions during the campaign where she had sought advice from him.

She said her campaign had not paid him any money and she had no knowledge of any payments by Lusk to Slater.

"I didn't have anything to do with Cameron Slater," she said.

"I got a couple of bits of advice from [Lusk] and that was it."

The reference to Hapeta comes after Hager describes in some detail how Lusk and Slater manipulated the candidate selection process in Rodney in 2011 to help Lusk's client Mark Mitchell be selected as candidate.

That included the pair collaborating on posts on the Whale Oil site commenting on the candidate selection process.

Whale Oil also published posts in 2011 discussing the selection process for Palmerston North's National candidate.

After Hapeta was chosen Slater wrote that she would be a great candidate.

Hapeta had not seen a copy of the Hager book when spoken to yesterday by the Standard.

National's candidate for this year's election, Jono Naylor, said he had not seen the book either. When asked if Lusk was involved in his campaign, Naylor said he had never heard of him.

Bruce McKenzie, owner of Bruce McKenzie books, said he could not recall the last time there was so much interest in a non-fiction book in New Zealand.

He had sold out yesterday morning and had had a steady stream of customers through during the day asking about copies.

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Palmerston North's two Whitcoulls stores had also sold out by mid-morning.

McKenzie said he hoped to have the book, which he had ordered from its second reprint, in store early next week. "There's a lot of interest, more than we've had in a long time," he said. PM stands by Collins, Ede, P5

- Manawatu Standard

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