Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau Chairman stood down

By Rahia Timutimu

The Ministry of Health has begun an independent audit in to the Māori disabilities services Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau Trust following allegations of misappropriation of funds.

Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau is the country's only intellectual disability residential Kaupapa Māori provider with nearly 300 clients, with 500 staff in 54 separate whare/residences in four different regions.

According to a former staff member, Shane Te Pou, “The kaupapa is important, it’s about our people living in our community looking after their own, and I just hope this war doesn’t see a demise of Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau.”

Former employees of Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau laid complaints with police last week over what they believed to be an outrageous over spending of funds for services provided for the trust.

Today the trust put out a statement confirming that after meeting with the Ministry of Health last week the current chairman, John Marsden has been stood down and an interim chairperson is to be appointed.

Shane says, “We did all we could to handle this in house, but we got to the point were we simply had no faith in the CEO or the Chairman, and the Chairman has paid the price”.

An independent auditor will also conduct an audit into the trust's operations and two advisers will be appointed to assist the current CEO Malcolm Robson.

Last week Native Affairs broke the story after former employee Tony Tietie was sacked after he raised concerns about the overpayments of invoices. Since then other former employees also came forward and laid complaints with the police.

"I think a new leadership, the two other things is the two whistle blowers that were sacked inappropriately ought to be reinstated and the ministry ought to be making contact with those people immediately", says Mr Te Pou.

The audit will start this week and the Ministry of Health has appointed consumer advocate David Russell as a board advisor to disability provider Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau.