Waho did not bring the Trust into disrepute – Cathy Dewes

By Heta Gardiner

According to a long serving member of the kōhanga reo movement Cathy Dewes, Toni Waho did not bring the trust into disrepute. Dewes was a witness in the High Court today in Mr Waho's case against the trust.

On the stand, Dewes said, “It was my firm view then as it is now that Mr Waho did not bring the board into disrepute.”

Cathy Dewes is seen as a leader of the Kōhanga Reo Movement. She was also one of Mr Waho's supporters before he was removed. She says the Kōhanga Reo National Trust was already under duress.

“The trust was the subject of public and National criticism after it dismissed the former CEO ms Black and the airing of the feathering the nest program (on Native Affairs) it was therefore in a considerable state of disrepute before Mr Waho's actions.”

Mr Waho was removed from the trust board in 2014 for bringing the trust into disrepute. Mr Waho disputes that claim and is taking a case to retrieve three years of the stipend he says he is owed for loss of income since his removal. The total is almost $90,000.

Dewes says the majority of those from the kōhanga reo whānau support Mr Waho's actions. 

“Outside the board, the reaction to Mr Waho's actions have been almost universally positive. The members of the kohanga reo whānau who are aware of what took place, regard of what Mr Waho did as honourable."

The trust will have a chance to cross-examine Cathy Dewes tomorrow.