Te Puni Kōkiri under close scrutiny regarding Whānau Ora

By Maiki Sherman

Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) has come under close scrutiny following the release of a report by the Auditor-General regarding Whānau Ora.

The report criticises TPK's management of Whānau Ora and the distribution of its funding.

The report acknowledges Whānau Ora as innovative, providing new thinking in social service delivery.

However, like all new initiatives, it's had teething problems, which are being attributed to TPK.

According to the Auditor-General report, Whānau Ora is surrounded by confusion and its aims are unclear. 

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “It's a new approach and a Māori one at that, therefore confusion can be expected.”

Spending by TPK has also been scrutinised.  Whānau Ora had a budget of $137.6 million.  $20.8 million went to its WIIE fund, $67.9 million on Service Delivery Capability, $6.6 million on Commissioning Agencies, and $42.3 million on Administration.  

As well as concerns over the flow of funding, also noted in the report was the fact TPK did not use all of its budget. The concern there is "use it or lose it".

Labour says the criticisms in the report lie with Michelle Hippolite. They say it's a reflection of the issues at the department's executive level.

That aside, the report did praise Whānau Ora as providing new thinking in social service delivery and also connecting with seriously struggling families. 

“There are minor issues to be addressed, but they aren't major and it is for me as the minister to address,” says Flavell.

Once the government's budget is announced in the coming weeks, it will be known whether this report has impacted the funding for Whānau Ora.