Native Affairs - The Insider - Part 1

By Mihingarangi Forbes

Kōhanga Reo is the single most influential force we have if Te Reo Māori is to survive. Its contribution to the revitalisation of our language is immeasurable.

At its peak, the movement had 824 language nests throughout the country. Today, just 451 remain and, of those remaining Kōhanga, a third of them - 172 - are at risk of closure.

A 2012 Waitangi Tribunal report says 3,000 Kohanga Reo infants and toddlers face a crisis because their buildings are not up to code. But, how did it get this way when over the last 20 years Kōhanga Reo has received a billion dollars in tax payer funding?

The Trust Board which governs Kōhanga Reo believes the Government's failed to adequately sustain the specific needs of Kōhanga Reo.

But, the Board itself has also been under fire from the very people it was supposed to serve - when 51 Kōhanga Reo marched on Head Office to voice their concerns about governance and management.

Over the last 2 years there have been allegations of misspending, leading to a series of audits and investigations into the Trust and its wholly owned subsidiary, Te Pataka Ohanga.

While reports cleared the Trust of any unlawful acts, a Department of Internal Affairs investigation found serious wrongdoing which amounted to gross mismanagement. 

Tonight, for the first time, former trustee Toni Waho speaks out.

Here's Part One of our special two part report.