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More to worry about

Written By: - Date published: 11:48 pm, April 7th, 2010 - 40 comments
Categories: public services - Tags: ,

Whanau Ora is, apparently, about giving a big pile of money to private groups under so-called ‘high trust’ contracts and expecting them to get on and deliver a whole range of public services that have previously been the responsibility of accountable government departments, or, more likely, clip the ticket as the actual services are still delivered by the State.

What could go wrong?

Quite a bit suggests this story.

Te Runanga O Te Ati Awa Ki Whakarongotai is just the kind of body that the Government intends to hand over big cheques to. It has been contracted to provide some basic health services to its community – cooking classes, B4School health checks, breastfeeding and parenting groups, an open clinic.

Problem is a faction got in charge of the runanga that appears to have been less than responsible. It directed health money to propping up an ailing cafe and siphoned off more into a term deposit. Over half a million dollars of our money has gone AWOL.

Worryingly, when others in the runanga sought government intervention to stop this malfeasance the minister (presumably that layabout Paula Bennett or all flash, no substance Tony Ryall) did nothing.

None of this bodes well for Whanau Ora. We’ve seen that corruption is too frequent when public money is dished over to unaccountable, unprofessional organisations. Worse, this National government is too lazy to act when corruption is brought to its attention.

Whanau Ora is going to be just one more mess that the next 6th Labour Government will need to clean up after the next election.

40 comments on “More to worry about ”

  1. ianmac 1

    John Key responded to this story by smiling and he said, “It was just a small sum of money and I am quite elaxed about it.” (I’m Kidding!)

    • Luxated 1.1

      Worryingly if you hadn’t appended the kidding I wouldn’t have been surprised…

      The question is though, will anyone call for the relevant minister’s head? Not saying that they should go or not as we don’t have enough information currently, but you would have to say that ignoring the embezzlement of nearly $600,000 is is more than a little negligent.

      captcha: misunderstanding, no doubt that will be the Government’s line on things.

      • sean14 1.1.1

        Aren’t the local health board and the police investigating? Doesn’t sound like the problem is being ignored.

        • Luxated

          The problem was ignored when it was brought to the attention of the Government though. The complainants went to the police after they got sick of waiting for the Government, it was only then that as far as I can tell any progress was made.

          • lprent

            Yeah, the police for all their faults (and I like pointing them out), are quite independent when it comes to smelling something actually wrong that they can possibly get a charge that may stick in court.

            Suspicious bastards – both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness.

    • Mac1 1.2

      Your ‘Kidding’ remark reminds me of the former Speaker, Doug Kidd, who gave some advice privately at a REAP Conference years ago under the previous National government to the effect that REAP had to spend and account for its small budgets carefully because it was taxpayers’ money.

      Contrast that point of view with the post above. Contrast that view with current cases of careless expenditure, rorting and troughing. Old style Nats must be disturbed by this governments’ agenda and actions.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1

        Old style Nats may have had some integrity although the fact of Muldoon tends to indicate otherwise. This new breed – wouldn’t know integrity if it hit them.

  2. agressive 2

    Tip of the iceberg.

    This government and the previous and those before have pissed vast sums of money up against the wall with this kind of thing for many a year.

  3. Bored 3

    The rational process here is to (in order):

    1. Put yourself on the Maori roll.
    2. Form a trust or company preferably in the Cayman Islands.
    3. Find some people who really do need help.
    4. Join the National party.
    5. Suck up to Turiana.
    6. Apply for funding.
    7. Build a house, take a holiday with the proceeds. Compare your ring with Brian Tamaki’s.
    8. Show zero results for people to be helped due to “insufficient funding”.
    9 Apply for more funding.

    • Cnr Joe 3.1

      such a relaxing system we have here in Aotearoa, no accountability – no worries!
      Now – how to get myself some – Maori roll first…..

      captcha: grown as in
      We’ve only just begun to live,
      White lace and promises
      A kiss for luck and we’re on our way.
      And yes, We’ve just begun.

      Before the rising sun we fly,
      So many roads to choose
      We start our walking and learn to run.
      And yes, We’ve just begun.

      Sounds like the threat of a hikoi from the Carpenters there

  4. Philopastry 4

    Who’s saying that Whanau Ora will be administered by runanga?

  5. hmmmm…whanau ora

    Quantifiable objectives with measurable outcomes performed across a wide range of services that are seen to be done in a transparent manner by culturally appropriate providers accountable to one central body ?…Its a big ask.

    I’m picking a lot of targetting ‘at risk’ families and outreach rather than a one stop ‘drop in’ shop, so I hope they handpicked some credible providers to run the pilot with. Providers with a track record of over delivering and under selling in some truly needy areas and run by people Turia can trust.

    My worry is, it’s just too easy to fudge the stats and cook the books, count the beans and tick the boxes because as has been shown even by this latest story, the state contracters are only buying a set of outcomes and don’t really care how they’re achieved. They will allow a period of grace to sort your shit out and get your stats up but in the meantime you could be troughing it hard out.

    It’s long been accepted that while it’s unethical/illegal to misappropriate funds for personal gain, you pretty much have carte blanche to re prioritise funds at the frontline if you can still meet, or get close to, your stated objectives by the next funding rounds due date cos the mid level bureaucrats who initially approve your application are more worried about covering their arses and kicking responsibility further up the chain than they are about whistleblowing a fraud investigation.

    More than likely ‘whanau ora’ will handpick some loyal Maori party supporters trusts, choose ‘soft option’ target problems in ‘safe’ areas to deal with and initially sex up their achievments with grand photo ops for Key to take advantage of and be seen to have done an exemplary job.

    • prism 5.1

      You sound wise, experienced, battle-hardened pollywog.

      • pollywog 5.1.1

        Hah…yeah, more like a disgruntled jedi knight am i. One who got his arse kicked by the evil empire rather than switch to the dark side and now, like Yoda, i’ve retired to some peaceful swamp to live out my days.

        I just hope Luke Skywalker doesn’t come crashing round anytime soon. I’m just as likely to tell him to piss off, save himself the hassle and bullshit of trying to be a hero. 🙂

  6. Sanctuary 6

    The opportunity for corruption in Whanau Ora is simply breathtaking, and given the frankly poor track record of accountability of Maori NGOs cronyism and corruption must surely follow as night follows day.

    It is difficult not to see Whanau Ora as simply brown crony capitalism for the Maori parties support base, a transfer of taxpayer dollars to superfluous middle men who will clip the ticket and pass on inferior services – access to which will become highly dependent on a corrupt web of patronage. Expect lots of Iwi proto-Bainimaramas swaggering about boasting you need to be onside with them to access Whanau Ora cash.

    • Bill 6.1

      From the linked article…”The health board has refused to reinstate funding until it has a single entity to deal with.”

      That’s where your corruption breeds and festers…in the single entity that conducts business…it’s not to do with Maori NGO’s any more than it is to do with non-Maori NGOs.

      The less accountable “doors wide open for corruption to waltz in” centralised structure is more or less forced on all organisations by the Inc Soc Act as well as funders etc who invariably insist on there being a top down managerial structure.

  7. Bill 7

    This is the shit that happens when organisations are set up in fundamentally undemocratic fashions.

    How many times does this need to happen; that factions fight over access to the power conferred by a certain position within a particular set-up before we abandon those ways of doing things and embrace democratic structures and processes? Why? Because all the potentially damaging consequences of unwarranted concentrations of power and decision making get undermined with the introduction of democracy.

    But then, I guess people would rather cling to the illusion that what we need to do is to put organisations in the ‘safe’ hands of experts…with oversight from other organisations or ‘experts’…maybe with laws drawn up and imposed by yet more ‘experts’ as an attempt to forestall given negative consequences of concentrating power in the hands of the few?

    And all because democracy is beyond the ken of us common men and women….as evinced by the runanga focussed on in the post.

    Overlooking the inconvenient fact that the runanga wasn’t actually democratic now, because it’s democracy we want to bag, not structures that concentrate authority and convey power to a few. Which is actually what the runanga is an obvious example of. We want more of that. More of the same. But in the ‘proper’ hands.

    ” The runanga is in disarray; one group claiming to represent the runanga is embroiled in a scrap with a new group that has fought to get authorities to take notice of its concerns about where the health dollars went.

    Two hui on March 28 were abandoned when Daniel Mullen, deputy chairman of one of the groups, repeatedly rejected calls for him to stand down. He has disputed the health board figures and said the money is not missing.

    He refused to comment further till an accountant employed by his group had “all the right information in the right boxes”.

    Richard Orzecki, who chairs a rival group that says it represents the runanga, said there had been no runanga governance meetings since 2008, meaning no-one had any idea what was going on. He was working with police on the issue.”

  8. coolas 8

    Much Govt policy seems clouded which arises suspicion about hidden intentions: Ecan sacking to deliver water to farmers, National Standards as Step One of an 8 Step process to introduce educaton ‘privatisation’, SuperCity preparing Auckland assets for sale etc etc.

    Maybe the hidden intention with Whanau Ora is as some previous posts suggest: Maori will make a mess of it: embezzlement and corruption.

    When you recall how National’s popularity shot up after the Brash Owera speech they know there’s a big constituency who’d love to see Maori humiliated – and patronisingly National can say they tried to give Maori responsibility but they are too immature and dishonest.

  9. PK 9

    ***When you recall how National’s popularity shot up after the Brash Owera speech they know there’s a big constituency who’d love to see Maori humiliated ***

    Really? I think you’ll find that his popularity shot up because he opposed this kind of separatism.

  10. “What could go wrong?”

    Has the current system worked so far for maori?

    Does nothing need fixed?

    Seen any recent maori stats around prison, or health, what about income or longevity. Do you think the system is working for maori?

    Just admit the truth – maori solutions give you the willies because you perceive that you will lose your privileges – you know the privilege that comes from being part of the ruling paradigm. You are fighting tooth and nail to hold your power, shit you’d even poke your own eye out so you don’t have to face the truth.

    and just because there is one apparently bad apple does that make all apples bad? How many non-maori rorts and rip offs – apart from the stealing of land and so on, have been committed over the years – let’s tally them all up and see which total is bigger.

    most maori realise that no one really gives a fuck about maori – except for maori – most everyone else has too much to lose

    • Cactus Kate 10.1


      The system for 9 nears under Labour had massive representation with Maori in the public sector and ever increased funding targetted at Maori. Didn’t work for anyone did it? Maori failed Maori. Maori failed non-Maori, Non-Maori failed Maori, non-Maori failed non-Maori.

      Welfare dressed in cute little old Aunt Tariana’s clothing is still welfare.

      Welfare doesn’t work. For anyone.

      As for Marty G’s post, he’s a Pinko. If Whanau Ora was promoted by ACT as “BusinessRoundtable” Ora then he would have written exactly the same thing. Probably with far more invective. I can’t see how he was playing the race card for questioning the credibility of the proposal.

      As for your comment that non-Maori don’t give a fuck about Maori – that is not the issue is it as you can take it as a given that the Maori Party doesn’t give a fuck about non-Maori either?

      What is the issue for Maori is that it is Maori over-represented in killing each other, hurting their own children, not helping each other, running off and leaving mothers with kids, fighting against each other tribally for power and not educating themselves to an international standard so only hurting themselves.

      No amount of money is going to stop that from happening is it?

      • pollywog 10.1.1

        Welfare doesn’t work. For anyone.

        What is the issue for Maori is that it is Maori over-represented in killing each other, hurting their own children, not helping each other, running off and leaving mothers with kids, fighting against each other tribally for power and not educating themselves to an international standard so only hurting themselves

        …and why is that Kate ? Why are Maori like that and do this to themselves and whats your solution or alternative to welfare ? Whatever it is, these problems didnt just appear in the 9yrs of the previous gov’t and it’s gonna take longer than another 9years of any other gov’t to fix.

        I would think another 2 generations, but first we as a nation need to redress and compensate maori for past wrongs and maori need to come back into the wider pasifikan cultural net. For them to unite as one people and stop pretending each iwi is a sovereign nation would be a good start.

        …No amount of money is going to stop that from happening is it?

        I would think more money than what will be given to ‘whanau ora’ could stop it from happening and I think we all know it, it’s just people like you don’t want to pay. Sure iwi need to cough up large to look after their own if they have the resources to do so but the rest of us should do also cos what affects Maori affects us all as a country.

        • Cactus Kate

          “but first we as a nation need to redress and compensate maori for past wrongs and maori need to come back into the wider pasifikan cultural net. For them to unite as one people and stop pretending each iwi is a sovereign nation would be a good start”.

          I am sorry I thought that was what the last large cheque for Treaty Settlements was for?
          What on earth is a “pasifikan cultural net”

          But we agree on the last point about their tribalism. But that’s not something that anyone other than Maori can solve (try getting the Maori Party and Labour Maori MP’s to join forces..that wont happen will it?) and hello – more taxpayer money isn’t the answer.

          • pollywog

            I am sorry I thought that was what the last large cheque for Treaty Settlements was for?

            …until Tuhoe and Nga Puhi, the last of the major iwi/treaty claims are settled, we wont see a pan Maori solution to solving the problems most face.

            Nor can we move towards becoming a republic, scrapping the treaty and the Maori electoral roll/seats until all claims are settled. The flipside is that once claims are settled and a valid republican movement is established, Maori will, IMO, cede from NZ and establish a union of independent sovereign states with all that entails and the eurocentric cultural elitists wont have to worry about paying for or owning Maori problems anymore.

            As it stands, Whanau Ora is a stop gap to ease frustration and provide hope for families who can neither rely on past or successive gov’ts or their own iwi for support. It also serves as a blueprint for iwi to adopt, until such time as they are willing to fork out resources to support the initiative, hence it being state funded from various sectors.

            The current cashed up iwi aren’t likely to kick in funds to support whanau from other iwi living outside their rohe/tribal boundaries. Thats why you wont hear current iwi leadership support ‘whanau ora’, because it put’s the spotlight of failure on them to support their own whanau and exert the governance they are supposed to have to ensure the welfare of their whanau wherever they live.

            They’ll grunt and make noises about a prosperous iwi and the rights of hapu within their rohe to influence iwi policy while troughing it hard out, but beyond that they abrogate responsibiltiy for individual whanau to the state and that’s where the welfare dependency and the troughing has always kicked in on that front…through urban maori authorities and trusts operating beyond iwi resources.

            I’d expect some major infighting within iwi when whanau under guidance of ‘whanau ora’ counsellors push for more rights from thier iwi in how things are done and by proxy, allow trusts and urban authorities to act on their behalf.

            Take Tainui for instance. A cool mill to keep the King happy and a couple hundy thou to keep Tuku in designer undies. Fucks knows he’s gonna need em cos I can see him shitting himself already as dysfunctional young whanau wise up and exert the collective power that they have always had, but through divide and conquer techniques exerted by iwi leaders and learnt from the colonials, has always held them in check

            The elephant in the room for Maori then, is that whanau make up hapu and hapu make up iwi. Iwi don’t represent all Maori yet the Maori party is now mandating itself to represent all Whanau. Essentially givng themselves the power to form hapu beyond the rohe or in someone else’s.

            What on earth is a “pasifikan cultural net’?

            It’s the wider cultural context ‘Te Ao Maori’ must be seen in to move forward in much the same way as Kiwi culture must be seen as a subset of transplanted Euro culture for it to move forward. For all that we see ourselves as having our own unique culture, we don’t. We have, to equate it to a ‘Pasifikan cultural net’, a ‘European cultural net’ cast over us, to which we are bound by the treaty.

            ‘Te ao maori’ is ‘Te ao o te Tagata o te Moana nui a Kiwa’. You can talk about specific Maori traditions and cultural practises but if you’re not going to acknowledge the wider ‘net’ from which they came from you’ll always be suffering some form of identity crisis in exactly the same way as non Pasifikan NZers do, by symbolically having an union jack on our flag. We’re not independent NZ’ers we never were, we’re british subjects who never formalised our independence in any sort of binding constitution.

            more taxpayer money isn’t the answer.

            Sure it is…if not then what ?

      • marty mars 10.1.2

        massive representation for maori – you should reread your history kate. Increased funding means nothing, if low then increase it is still low. Pinkos are good in my book. ACT couldn’t do what the maori party has done because it is like a sloth that has died in the tree but just not rotted off it’s claws yet. ACT = gone burger.
        maori do give a fuck about non-maori. Whether the maori party does – who knows.

  11. Fisiani 11

    Stop playing the race card Marty. Just because one Maori trust MAY have problems does not mean ALL are corrupt. You are tarring all Maori to make a political smear attempt.

  12. gingercrush 12

    Don’t you just love the racism most people replying to this thread are currently showing? Marty G actually made a reasonable post about how giving money to private organisations to run government policy can prove to be problematic. But instead of talking about that. Several of you instead are more interested in showing how racist you are.

    It depends on the details. What accountability measures there will be and who will be providing the services. There is supposed to be 20 or so organisations that will be able to draw funds from Whanau Ora from what I understand. Essentially Whanau Ora is about removing duplication of services so that instead of a family have to go through several services they’ll go through one service who will then utilise other government services and organisations but it’ll be through the one service. If its that and we’ll find out today then essentially it could do very well. And is something Labour could actually work with. The Greens on “Backbenchers” at least seemed to like the idea in essence. The problem could well prove to be the privatisation of government services and that is why Labour is going to oppose this. Even though the idea should be sound Labour policy they’re not going to like it because of how the policy is delivered.

  13. PK 13

    ***Seen any recent maori stats around prison, or health, what about income or longevity. Do you think the system is working for maori?***

    See any recent stats for men? The are far more often imprisoned, have shorter lifespans and worse academic outcomes. Do they need a separate provider too?

    ***Just admit the truth maori solutions give you the willies because you perceive that you will lose your privileges you know the privilege that comes from being part of the ruling paradigm.***

    Yes, and male solutions probably give women the willies because they will lose their privileges – the privilege that comes from being part of the ruling paradigm.

    • marty mars 13.1

      or you could answer the question – do you think the system is working for maori?

      It is shocking that 100% or thereabouts of men in men’s prisons are men – a sobering statistic indeed but quess what pk over 50% of those men are maori and 60% of women in prison are maori – just bad luck i spose… no need to try and fix something that isn’t broken.

  14. PK 14

    “do you think the system is working for maori?”

    Depends which maori you’re talking about. I’m skeptical that systems can fix peoples personal problems. Ultimately it’s up to individuals, their families and community. I don’t think there’s any magic bullet. I’ll have a look later when more info about Whanau Ora is released.

    *** Essentially Whanau Ora is about removing duplication of services so that instead of a family have to go through several services they’ll go through one service who will then utilise other government services and organisations but it’ll be through the one service. If its that and we’ll find out today then essentially it could do very well.***

    I thought it was a duplication of services in itself, but I’ll wait and see I guess.

    • marty mars 14.1

      “Ultimately it’s up to individuals, their families and community” – sounds like whanau ora to me 🙂

      And yes we will have to wait and see and not prejudge – i hope it works.

      I am sure there will be much gnashing of teeth in labours tent tonight as tariana takes on her ministry.

  15. jimminy 15

    Thought there was to be no privisations in the first term?

    So instead there is going to be a lot of outsourcing instead?

    • Cactus Kate 15.1

      Jimminy – It’s okay if the Maori Party do it to help their cronies with consulting contracts and enriching the back pockets of the Brown table. But of course if ACT were proposing such in favour of their own supporters and funders…..Christ…..hear The Standard’s wordpress Mummybot explode

      • lprent 15.1.1

        So far the authors here haven’t exactly been too enthusiastic about either the previous ACT party troughing, or what is showing up as being Maori party troughing in the announcements today.

        I’d suggest that you read the actual posts rather than filtering them through your prejudices to come up with pre-formed presumptions. Pretty typical thoughtlessness by yet another ACToid.

        It is about efficient delivery of services. Having dysfunctional private organizations failing to deliver services with taxpayers money sounds even worse than the alternatives.

        • Cactus Kate


          That’s pretty rich as your prejudices come through without reading the content of my comments. I was actually supporting Marty G’s post against those who misconstrued it as racist (Marty Mars and Fisiani).

          • marty mars

            don’t put words in my mouth kate the ‘r’ word has not been uttered by me

          • lprent

            I do read comments differently to most of the readers here, it is true. I’m usually moderating and so read from most recent to older across all posts and comment threads.

            What I looked at was just the content of that comment and the comment thread it was in:- ie you replying to jimminy which was at the top of that comment thread. So what I saw was you making a comment that looked rather stupid in its comment thread context. If you’d wanted to blast at the others in the posts comments, then I’d have expected you to say that.

            If you read your comment in that context, it appears to simply whine about the authors on this site not being even handed when looking at relative merits of ACT and MP troughing. That is what I responded to because it appeared to comment on the site as a whole – which I pretty well always respond to.

            Because I have to make the effort to respond during moderation, I usually try to encourage people not to draw my attention again by being nastier than required. Think of it as evolution in action.

  16. Alexandra 16

    Whanau ora is about transfer of money into private hands. Maori, pakeha private hands makes no difference to me. Whanau ora will be used by this government as justification to privatise mainstream social services and the MP are either too blind to see that or dont give a shit. This government is doing nothing for job creation or educational opportunities for Maori and that is where the MP should be putting their energies and focus…not being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, or the scape goat for the growth in social inequity. From what I can work out, whanau ora creates a middle man or broker who co-ordinates the different agencies, but at what cost? I would dearly appreciate a full analysis of what this means, not just slogans.

  17. Zaphod Beeblebrox 17

    When looking at this model I can’t help thinking about Lebanon or Palestine. In those places Hamas or Fatah or whichever political/military/islamic organisation provides services and family support (usually with Iranian or Syrian funding) in return for political or human support. Anyone who represents political organisations opposing the dominant grouping gets ostracised and frozen out of funding. Of course the official government (in this case the Palestinian authority or Lebanese government) can’t afford or can’t be bothered or find it too dangerous to put people on the ground so they lose credibility. So the message is- government bad, muslim fundamentalist group good.

    So where do you think the loyalty of the family whose entire subsistence will depend upon a particular private organisation is going to sit? With the NZ govt and the greater good or to the local provider who can act like a warlord when it comes to asking for loyalty, favours and dare I say it commitment to the good of the local lifestyle.

  18. One aspect that Idiot/Savant touched on was

    “it seeks to promote not just self-management, health, and participation in society, but also participation in te ao Maori and “Whanau cohesion”.”


    I quite like that – isn’t that what we need to do?

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