In the months before the 2008 general election, New Zealand First became embroiled in a dispute over party donations. This resulted in a wave of unfavourable media headlines and an investigation into party finances by the Serious Fraud Office, the Police, and the Electoral Commission, and a hearing by Parliament’s privileges committee. On 29 August 2008 Peters wrote to Prime Minister Clark offering to stand aside from his ministerial roles while the investigations were ongoing. Although the Serious Fraud Office, the police, and the Electoral Commission all found that New Zealand First was not guilty of any wrongdoing, the episode, by design, harmed the party in the lead-up to the election. On election night it was clear that Peters had not regained Tauranga and the party had not met the 5 per cent threshold. In a gracious concession speech, the New Zealand First leader said that “It’s not over yet. We’ll reorganise ourselves in the next few months. And we’ll see what 2011 might hold for us all”.
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