Former Kōhanga board member's appeal dismissed

By Te Ao Māori News

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by a former board member of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Toni Waho appealed to the High Court claiming his removal from the board was a breach of trust and sought interim relief to stop the board from removing him.

However, a High Court judge had described the board as being at 'serious risk of dysfunctionality' as the internal wrangling has continued.

When his application to the High Court was dismissed, Mr Waho then went to the Court of Appeal, which also declined his bid.

The court found that Toni Waho did not have enough of a case against the board and he had to pay costs to Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Last week Kōhanga whānau gathered in Ngāruawahia to hear the feedback and recommendations of a report compiled by Ngā Tuārā Whānui.

The Kōhanga Reo Governance Working Party outlined strong support for change in the feedback gathered from meetings with Kōhanga around the county of putting an end to lifelong board membership, changing its structure and more transparency and accountability.

Kōhanga were presented with the report and recommendations compiled by Ngā Tuara Whānui at Tūrangawaewae Marae.

Ngā Tuārā Whānui was established earlier this year at Te Kōhanga Reo Hui Taumata to gather feedback from Kōhanga whānau after a number of investigations into allegations of misspending and poor management and processes surfaced regarding the Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board and its subsidiary Te Pātaka Ōhanga.

According to the report there was,“strong support for a change to the Board Structure and composition and broad agreement for no life-long membership of Trustees Board Membership.”

There was also a strong call for increased transparency and accountability to Kōhanga whānau and concerns were also raised regarding the quality of support provided to Kōhanga by the National Office across a range of issues including policy, buildings and insurance.

The report also outlined general support for King Tuheitia to remain Patron of Kōhanga Reo and appoint a female patron such as Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi.

The establishment of a Kāhui Rangatira was also proposed to provide guidance and oversight on kaupapa and tikanga matters. Members of the group would attend meetings but lose their voting rights. Suggestions of members for the Kahui Rangatira included King Tuheitia, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Timoti Karetu and Wharehuia Milroy it was also supported they should be inaugural members.

The report also recommended changes to the Board structure which includes 7- 12 members elected from rohe with Kōhanga Reo and strong governance experience, annual reporting to stakeholders and transparency of critical decisions.

The recommendations are being discussed among the Kōhanga whānau.