Former Kōhanga Trustee claiming $90,000

By Heta Gardiner

Former Kōhanga Reo National trustee Toni Waho is claiming a stipend of nearly $90,000 for being wrongly dismissed.

Waho was dismissed by the national trust in 2014 for bringing it into disrepute after he publicly questioned the trust’s financial affairs.

His case is being heard in the Wellington High Court where Waho’s own integrity was under fire when questioned by lawyer Matthew McClelland.

“Are you saying that you being paid $90,000 for doing absolutely nothing is good for the kohanga reo whanau? It's a yes or no question,” asked McClelland.

Mr Waho replied: “I'm saying yes it is good for me and it is good for them.”

McClelland is the lawyer for Tina Olsen-Ratana, the former co-chair of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Waho told the court he had been given a loan by the trust and had faced financial stress to pay it back.  He claims he was wrongly dismissed with a loss of income of three years or nearly $90,000.

“You may say wrongly but the fact of the matter is since 2014 you haven't done a thing for the Trust so why should you be paid a stipend?,” said McClelland.

Waho replied: “It is a correction of a wrong Mr McClelland.”

Under further questioning, Waho admitted he had no evidence to back past comments that Tina Olsen-Ratana had misled the Serious Fraud Office.

“Do you think as an honest man that you should apologise to Mrs Tina Olsen-Ratana?,” asked McClelland.

Waho replied: “I am extremely apologetic that, that statement was made.

The case is expected to continue for a further two weeks.