Mixed reaction to document outlining Kōhanga misspending allegations

updated By Maiki Sherman
Reaction to Kōhanga misspending allegations

Following Te Kāea's exclusive report containing the document outlining misspending allegations which sparked the Serious Fraud Office investigation into Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, Te Kāea was at the Iwi Leaders Forum today in Tauranga where reaction is mixed.

There are differing views amongst iwi leaders regarding the pressures mounting over Te Kōhanga Reo, however they're united in the belief that the children should remain the key focus.

Yesterday, Te Kāea revealed the document outlining allegations which sparked the Serious Fraud Office investigation.  Toni Waho was also informed yesterday he has been removed by the board as a trustee.

The problems at Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust weren't discussed at today's Iwi Leaders Forum, however, back in the communities of these iwi leaders, everyone is talking about it.

"Ngāti Kahu have been following this issue for a long time, the ups and downs regarding Te Kōhanga Reo and it is heart-breaking," says Awanui Black.

Margaret Mutu says, “Our region met this week to discuss the various issues and I really feel for them because they are carrying this burden.”

Toni Waho was removed from his position on the board yesterday, having alerted Government ministers to misspending allegations at the National Trust.

Awanui Black says a better move perhaps would have been to allow the kōhanga to make that call at the national meeting next month.  

“I know the various rules for operating a board and perhaps they simply followed theirs and I cannot fault them on that.  But when I look at the situation from a Māori perspective, I believe it would have been better to allow the people to decide,” says Black.

According to Rahui Papa, “There is that thought but if the board felt things would only worsen during the time to then, they have done their duty, and only they know the intricacies of the situation.”

“The removal of Toni is similar to the removal of Titoki (Black).  That is why we of Tauranga Moana continue to object to the actions of the board,” says Mabel Wharekawa-Burt.

Yesterday, Te Kāea revealed the allegations that were passed on to ministers which included a golf cart gifted to a director, a $20,000 loan to a former CEO for purchase and production of videos, a $3000 koha, trips to China and Australia, and a $60,000 vehicle purchased for an individual.

“The allegations must be substantiated with evidence, reports, documents, and that will take them from being allegations to fact.  But at the moment, they are simply allegations,” says Papa.

“Do not allow the movement to die or be riddled with problems because in the end it's our grandchildren who bear the brunt of such actions,” says Mutu.

At the national meeting at Tūrangawaewae Marae, a report will be tabled by the working group regarding a new structure for the National Trust.