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.