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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
New Zealand premier 'faked' painting
Helen Clark
Ms Clark: Too busy to paint something herself
A New Zealand charity has criticised Prime Minister Helen Clark after she admitted putting her signature on a painting she never painted.

Ms Clark gave the abstract, blue and purple painting to animal welfare group Save Animals from Exploitation (SAFE), for it to auction for charity.


It was election year, I was the leader of the opposition and I was as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger

Prime Minister Helen Clark

But now New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times newspaper has reported that Ms Clark's office commissioned a professional artist for the work, which Ms Clark then signed.

She told the newspaper she was only trying to be helpful.

"We thought it was a good cause and something was put in," she said.

She said she allowed the painting to be done by someone else because of "time pressures".

"It was election year, I was the leader of the opposition and I was as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger," she told the Sunday Star-Times.

'Joke'

Not everybody is so relaxed about the issue.

Auckland businessman Henry van Dijk - who paid NZ$1,000 (US$420) for the the fake prime ministerial work at the auction - said he was appalled.

"She never should have signed that painting if she didn't do it," he said.

"The painting is a joke. If it's not by her it's not worth $2 now," he said.

Ms Clark, who is also Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, has said she had offered to reimburse Mr Van Dijk his money.

See also:

23 Feb 02 | South Asia
NZ premier denies royal snub
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: New Zealand
26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: New Zealand
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