Toni Waho states his case in court against Kōhanga reo

By Heta Gardiner

Toni Waho claims he did not bring the Kōhanga Reo Trust into disrepute.  He was the only witness today on the second day of the trial in Wellington.

Years have passed but the issue is still raw.

 “I considered myself a lonely voice in the wind.”

Those were Waho's words in his case against Tina Olsen-Ratana and the Kōhanga Reo Trust claiming that he did not bring the trust into disrepute. 

Waho was dismissed from his place on the board for bringing the trust into disrepute. This came after significant media coverage about the spending of the trust and Te Pātaka Ohanga - the trust subsidiary company.

Waho told the court he made many attempts to address issues within the board but claims the board showed no interest in addressing the concerns.

“I could not sit quietly at the meeting, with the ministers and allow them to be misled into believing, that there were no issues that still needed to be addressed with the trust.”

Allegations include misspending of public monies on a wedding dress and spending on a fuel card.  Waho told the court he wanted to take concerns to the relevant ministers and media.

“If I'm not satisfied that the board is making the necessary action. I believe that I will be left with no option but to raise my concerns with the appropriate people outside the board. The relevant authorities, the department of internal affairs, the serious fraud office and the police, ministers of the crown and the media.”

The defense lawyers from the Kōhanga Reo National Trust will cross-examine Waho statements tomorrow.