PM defends staffer’s role in wedding plans, says they worked hard to follow the rules

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rejected any suggestions that taxpayer money was used to plan her wedding, saying any help was given in the capacity of a friend in her own time.

Ardern this morning told the AM Show she was not aware of her office being contacted by the Auditor General’s office following claims that the Taxpayer’s Union has written to the Auditor General about one of her staff members using taxpayer-funded time or resources to look after private matters.

However, Ardern said everyone had been “working hard to do the right thing” and they would assist anyone who decided to investigate.

“So obviously I reject that solution and I will be working closely with anyone who chooses to look into it.”

The Weekend Herald reported that Ardern’s electorate secretary Barbara Ward visited the Bushmere Arms in Gisborne to assist the couple with their wedding plans in early May and again in July. Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford are no longer having their wedding at the Bushmere Arms after they failed to agree on terms, but the owner is still seeking a $5000 cancellation fee.

But Ardern said all flights were paid for personally and the time used to visit the venue was done during annual leave and at weekends.

“The person in question is amongst a number of friends who have offered to help Clarke and I and everyone has worked to make sure we are doing the right thing and following the rules and the days you’ve asked yes two were weekends and one was an annual leave day.”

There were also no other days that anyone needed to be concerned about and everything had all been done within the rules, she said.

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