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$1mil Whanau Ora funding for Parata supporters

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, November 17th, 2010 - 33 comments
Categories: corruption - Tags: , ,

What little we know of Whanau Ora is that it is essentially the privatisation of government delivery of social services to private groups. Rather than deliver services themselves, government departments entrust taxpayer funds to small groups that often have little or no track record to do the job instead. It’s an invitation for corruption.

The Taeaomanino Trust is one such group. It has received up to $1.5 million to give unspecified assistance to 1000 families. Here’s the article:

A taxpayer-funded trust – awarded Government contracts worth up to $1.5 million – is being investigated by police after more than $100,000 went missing.

Taeaomanino Trust, based at Porirua, faces allegations about over-inflated expense claims and senior managers employing relatives and then pocketing their salaries.

The trust has received support from high-profile people, including Prime Minister John Key, former Labour MP Winnie Laban, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia and the National MP Hekia Parata, whom it endorsed this week as Mana by-election candidate.

Ifopo So’o, who founded the trust with his wife, Paula Masoe, was dismissed in March last year after $107,000 went missing.

Ms Masoe’s daughter, Gerardine Clifford, is chief executive of the trust and it has employed a number of their relatives.

As soon as you see some little-known organisation staffed by family members taking in taxpayer funds to deliver vaguely defined services, you’ve got to start worrying.

When a series of allegations surfaced about Ms Masoe, the Social Development Ministry commissioned independent forensic accountant Deloitte to investigate. Its findings – in November 2009 – were damning…

…The Deloitte report investigated 10 allegations about the trust and its staff. It found:

Two relatives of Mr So’o and Ms Masoe were employed as cleaners but did not clean at the trust. Their wages were diverted into accounts held in Ms Masoe and Mr So’o’s name.

Ms Masoe claimed expenses of $3500 for a carpet but there was no evidence it was laid.

$5058 was claimed for accommodation and training – but no receipts provided.

The trust’s New World card was used to buy baby wipes, lamb chops, salmon fillets, fruit and vegetables.

Expenses were claimed for cigarettes and magazines. Ms Masoe claimed $4500 for use of her personal vehicle.

Ms Masoe was overpaid for 93 days of leave.

Wow. You would think that the ministers would want someone’s head on a spike over that. But no.

Six months later the trust was awarded a $500,000 Family Start contract to provide home-based services to about 100 struggling families. Last month Taeaomanino was selected as a provider for the controversial Whanau Ora scheme, in a contract thought to be worth up to $1 million.

So last month, this corrupt outfit gets a pile of money thanks to Tariana Turia and the National government and this month they’re out campaigning for the National Party candidate, supported by Turia. Funny that.

However, in August another community organisation, concerned about MSD’s response to the allegations, contacted police, who are now investigating.

Detective Sergeant Brent Clark confirmed: “Waitangirua CIB are investigating a complaint in relation to the Taeaomanino Trust, around allegations of misappropriation of money.”

The government failed to do its job. Fortunately, another NGO saw these people ripping off a system that is meant to help the most needy and called the Police.

With a by-election just days away, you would say that the last thing Parata wants right now is the endorsement of a corrupt outfit. But, then, she is hoping to be invited into Cabinet, which amounts to much the same thing these days.

33 comments on “$1mil Whanau Ora funding for Parata supporters ”

  1. bbfloyd 1

    i guess we can look forward to this being exposed comprehensively by our utterly unbiased fourth column? Or is it not blatant enough yet to be worthy of making the news?

  2. Tigger 2

    Where are you quoting from Marty?

    My fave part of this is claiming for cigarettes…great look for a health based trust…

    [Link added to OP – thanks Blighty. — r0b]

  3. ianmac 3

    Sorry bbfloyd. The MSM is very busy with a Princely engagement.

      • Carol 3.1.1

        And some of the most pertinent bits, show that the Nats and MP were supporting the Trust and giving them contracts, long after a series of allegations of mismanagement, cronyism & corruption

        An investigation by forensic accountants Deloitte later revealed a series of other allegations about inflated expense claims, senior managers employing relatives and staff leave.

        However, less than a year later the trust was awarded government contracts thought to be worth up to $1.7m by the Social Development Ministry.

        Prime Minister John Key met staff members of Trust earlier this year, its annual report reveals. The Trust was invited to participate in a business expo organised by National MP and Mana by-election candidate Hekia Parata and the Pacific Business Trust. …

        Pacific Island Affairs, Georgina Te HeuHeu visited the Kenepuru-based trust to launch a Youth Initiatives Programme.

        And Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia was a guest. “This was a wonderful opportunity for us to find out first hand, what the Minister’s intentions are for Whanau Ora and how Pacific peoples fit into this picture. We spent some time talking about the Pacific model of care that we developed at Taeaomanino.”

        The trust was announced as a Whanau Ora provider in October. It is thought the contract is worth up to $1m.

        It was also awarded a Family Start contract in June, thought to be worth around $500,000.

        The Government first became aware of allegations about Taeaomanino in February 2009, when a worried social worker contacted Finance Minister Bill English.

        The correspondence was forwarded on to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

      • ianmac 3.1.2

        With his hand on the little girl’s shoulder. What! Well it worked during the 2008 Election!

    • bbfloyd 3.2

      of course… thanks for reminding me… i feel terrible now. how could i have been so insensitive..

  4. Gee no wonder the trust is supporting National.

    Whanau Ora could potentially be a worthwhile police. The proposal that local on the ground organisations be funded to deliver services can work but the responsibilities and accountabilities have to be clear.

    This sort of news where it appears that funding has been abused will kill the scheme however.

  5. deemac 5

    oddly the DomPost has picked up on this story but not the Herald yet.
    It stinks – I predict it is much murkier even than the Pansy Wong affair!

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Why wasn’t this “trust” closed down and the directors jailed after the first instance of fraud?

  7. Phil Mickelson 7

    Why is no-one focusing on the trust that made the complaint? They have been angling for this money for ages and using all kinds of dirty tactics to get a hold of it. And how come this comes out three days before a local by-election when this is relatively old news? Smacks of political opportunitism.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      Yeah, and how come at the end of scooby-doo when the would be buyer of the abandoned fairground complains that he would have got away with his scheme to lower the price by pretending to be ghost if it wasn’t for those meddling kids, no one pays him any attention whatsoever. It’s bias I tells ya.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      They may have been after the money, nothing wrong with that as they also provide the same services, but there would be something wrong if they had noticed the fraud and didn’t do anything about it.

      • Dragon 7.2.1

        Regardless of political opportunism, or who shopped them in… isn’t the issue that it happened??? Taxpayers money has been stolen AGAIN. If it hadn’t happened there wouldn’t be anything to tell.

  8. higherstandard 8

    What, are you surprised ? Did you believe that coconuts aren’t just as good at rorting the system as the honkies ?

    • Dragon 8.1

      If it was a Maori org they would have been front page they day after it happened and already charged through the courts adding to those Maori stats…

  9. Phil Mickelson 9

    Pascal’s bookie, nice retort but I didn’t notice anyone saying they didn’t do it.

    • felix 9.1

      So what? How does that change any of the facts?

      Are you even disputing any of the facts?

    • Pascal's bookie 9.2

      nice retort but I didn’t notice anyone saying they didn’t do it

      nah, but I never said anything about that.

      I was alluding to you saying words to the effect of ‘Hey what about the people who pointed out the scandal huh? What about them huh? They’re dodgy. That’s pretty dodgy isn’t it?”

      What is there to say?
      If the accusers are dodgy and using some dirty tricks then bad on them I suppose. But I’d like to know if the dirty tricks amount to more than pointing a journalist towards a story at an inopportune time for the government, because there is not much wrong with that.

  10. swordfish 10

    Call me a shameless self-promoter if you wish, but can I just say that I made the following comment on the ‘Different Approaches to Campaigning in Mana’ (November 11) thread on this site (regarding By-Election endorsements of Parata by so-called “Porirua community leaders”):
    ————————————————————————————————————–
    (November 11 comment):

    “Deputy-Dawg, Liz Kelly, is a right-leaning Porirua city councillor and Mana businesswoman. So no surprises there.

    Although “journalist”, Andrea Vance (this is her second blatantly-biased article on the Mana by-election), tells us that “local leaders” suggested Fa’afoi’s lack of experience is seen as a drawback, the only other “local leader” she mentions (apart from city councillor, Wayne Poutoa, who favours Fa’afoi) is “Samoan community leader, Paula Masoe.” Suspect Masoe is a Tory, but can’t be sure. She certainly features in a photo on Parata’s National Party webpage.

    Masoe appears to manage the Taeomanino Trust-provided Family Start programme, funded by the Ministry of Social Development. There’s some interesting stuff on the internet about a long-running employment dispute, in which (ultimately unproven) allegations were made against her by fellow staff.” (end of comment)
    —————————————————————————————————————-

    I was prompted to do this wee bit of googling by the memory that – in the run-up to the 2008 General Election – similar spurious predictions of some supposedly wholesale Pasifika swing to National were made by one or two National-leaning Pasifika people in both South Auckland and Porirua, backed-up by local Nat Party Electorate officials and loudly broadcast in the media.

    In the event, there appears to have been no swing whatsoever to the Nats by Pasifikas in 2008. Roughly a quarter-to-a-third went to Philip Field’s Pacific Party in Mangere, with smaller proportions swinging to the PP in Manurewa and Manukau East (and virtually none in Mana = a mere 189 Party-Votes). But little or no swing to the Nats.

    So, I just had that feeling that Masoe was one of that tiny minority of Pasifika Nats, pretending to speak for the whole of her community: Dominion Post: “Samoan community leader Paula Masoe said Ms Parata had won over a lot of Pasifika supporters. “She’s a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community.”” . Masoe went on to talk about Fa’afoi not being ready yet/”I don’t want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who’s not ready yet.”/and that there was a “strong feeling” among Pasifikas that he’s being “imposed” on Pasifika people.

    My brief bit of googling took me to a series of Wellington Employment Relations Authority reports from 2009 and 2010 which suggested the 10 allegations of “serious misconduct” against Masoe related to “alleged dishonesty, misappropriation of funds, failure to follow purchasing processes, falsification of records and other serious misconduct.”

    These reports also mentioned that the Ministry of Social Development had put in place a new competitive tender process for the on-going delivery of the programme. I couldn’t find any information on how successful the Taeaomanino Trust was in securing the contract, but my guess was, of course, that they were successful and hence the glowing endorsement of Parata.

    (Farrar, incidently, placed great emphasis on Masoe’s endorsement on Kiwiblog. Dear oh dear).

    Most amusing of all, dear old Tracy “John loves Bronagh” Watkins tells us in today’s DomPost (‘Big Parties Both Ignore Mana’s Safe-Seat Tag’) that “National’s expectations appear to have been buoyed by its candidate, Hekia Parata, winning over some key Pacific Island leaders…” Ah, yeah, Tracy, that would be precisely the same “Pacific Island leader” who appears on the front page of the same issue of your newspaper, facing very serious allegations.

  11. tc 11

    Oh so that’s what Whanau Ora is about….makes perfect sense now for a moment I thought the nats were wanting to improve service delivery but I see it’s business as usual….look after your bent mates.

  12. Bunji 12

    The intrigue continues. That doesn’t look good.

  13. Jeff 13

    I hear the Trust is fine, they have a brand new chair and board doing a clean up.

    • Dragon 13.1

      If thats the case isn’t one of the offenders (Paula Masoe) still working there? Isn’t the Chair’s husband that guy who was busted in the Immigration scandal? kurupe or something like that. The apples don’t fall far from THAT tree!

  14. Dragon 14

    Pacific people deserve better representation and support than these arrogant, corrupt, inept crooked coconuts. They should have been brought down years ago. They use bullying techniques in the community with their Samoan mafia in tow.

    I agree with earlier blog… who cares who turned it in. If they weren’t guilty there would be nothing to ‘turn in’

    [Overt racism in this comment. Will let it through, but it isn’t appreciated here. –r0b]
    [lprent: I think I’d have filed it in the round cabinet.. ]

  15. Rally 15

    I agree who cares who told the papers,the truths out there now and we can now see how disgusting this woman and her husband really are!!!!!!

    I attended the meeting where Masoe said the following about Parata, “She’s a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community.”” ( I’m sorry how hard did you work Paula??? What would you know about hard work??) . Masoe went on to talk about Fa’afoi not being ready yet/”I don’t want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who’s not ready yet.”/and that there was a “strong feeling” among Pasifikas that he’s being “imposed” on Pasifika people. I don’t understand then why she would want to waste the sweat of our people jetting of to Fiji, Samoa up to 3 times a year and not to forget Ms Masoe was overpaid for 93 days of leave!!! I hope she is no longer seen as a “Local Leader” but both her and her husband are seen for the fraudsters they really are.

    I wonder where they are hiding now.
    Most probably run off to hide somewhere in Samoa from all the shame. I hope she enjoyed the lamb chops, I’m not too sure you can get them in jail.

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