'Waho impugned reputation of kōhanga reo trust' – Timoti Karetu

By Heta Gardiner

Timoti Karetu, the co-chair of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust at the time of Toni Waho's removal says if Mr Waho wasn't satisfied with how the trust was dealing with issues, he should have resigned.

Mr Karetu questioned Waho staying on as a trustee if he wasn't going to abide by the trust's decisions.

Karetu was the single witness on the eighth day of Waho's case against the trust and told the court, if you're going to stay in the camp, you need to be a team player. 

“If Toni was really that worried about the allegations not being dealt with in a way that was satisfactory to him. I do not know why he did not take this approach and why he intended to stay on the trust board if he was not going to abide by its decisions.”

Karetu was the co-chair of the trust at the time of Toni Waho's removal. He claims Waho did bring the trust into disrepute.

“His actions gave the impression that the trust board was unable to deal with its own financial management and was attempting to conceal wrong doing from the ministers and the public. He has impugned the reputation of the trust and the kōhanga reo movement.”

When Toni Waho took the stand, he outlined how he believed the trust wasn't addressing his concerns. Karetu says that isn't true and that Waho acted hastily.

Karetu told the court, “It is also misleading to say the board did not act on his concerns given that we had scheduled a meeting for the 23rd of March to discuss them. Toni chose to pre-empt that meeting by writing to the ministers.”

Waho also acknowledged that there may have been some damage to the reputation of some of the board members but the trust itself was not brought into disrepute. Karetu says you can't have one without the other. 

Karetu said, “I'm reminded of a Māori saying, hē o te kotahi te hē o te katoa. It's a collective suffering.”

Toni Waho has taken the Kōhanga Reo National Trust to court seeking the stipend he says he's owed for the last three years since his dismissal. Karetu says Waho should've followed the trust's direction and approach despite his personal reservations.

Karetu told the court that, “as a trustee he should have abided by the decisions of the majority of the trust board, even if he did not personally agree with them.

Tina Olsen-Ratana is expected to return to the witness stand tomorrow.