The Electoral Commission has confirmed to 1 NEWS that a party advertisement for National placed in the NZ Herald broke election rules.
The June 22 half-page ad – which used the hashtags #National2020 and #Luxon2020 – carried an authorisation statement from S Brooks of Christchurch - later revealed to be National Party supporter Steve Brooks.
The ad, in blue, played on Dick Frizzell’s well-known 1997 artwork Mickey to Tiki, but featured former leader Sir John Key’s face transforming into Christopher Luxon's.
National Party officials said they didn't know anything about the ad before it was placed.
It was published in the wake of headlines made by Mr Luxon after he announced his upcoming retirement as CEO of Air New Zealand, followed by hints that he might be interested in politics and that he identified most strongly with National.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission today confirmed to 1 NEWS that the advertisement had breached the Electoral Act.
"In the Electoral Commission's view the print advertisement placed by Steve Brooks with NZME was a 'party advertisement' as defined in the Electoral Act and should have had the written authorisation of the National Party secretary prior to publication," the spokesperson said.
"NZME has accepted that it should not have run the print advertisement with the hashtag '#National2020'.
"They had taken steps to establish Mr Brooks did not have the required authorisation and removed the hashtag from the online version of the advertisement, but a staff error meant that the print version was not changed.
"NZME has given an undertaking that they will be reviewing their processes. A letter has been sent to Mr Brooks reminding him to seek advice on the content of any future political advertising."
The commission said it will not be taking the matter further.
In a 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll released this week, Mr Luxon made a surprise appearance the the preferred prime ministers list. One per cent of those polled said they would like to see him lead the country.