Polity: Kohanga Reo trust comes out swinging

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, April 14th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: Maori Issues - Tags: , ,

the first kohanga reo

The first kōhanga reo set up at Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, is visited in 1985 by Chief Judge Eddie Durie, then Waitangi Tribunal Chairperson, and Paul Temm QC.

Rob Salmond at Polity comments on the resolutions of the Kōhanga Reo over the weekend.

The Kohanga Reo Trust held a hui over the weekend to discuss the government’s proposals for revamping its financial affairs following revelations of misusing public funds:

The Government in a confidential letter has effectively set an April 30 deadline for the trust to get its plans in order or risk losing its role in dispensing about $80 million in funding to the country’s Kohanga Reo – Maori language preschools.

It follows allegations of mis-spending of public money by the trust’s wholly owned subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga which have now been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

But at a press conference today after the hui Tukoroirangi Morgan, who has now been removed from the trust by the King, said they had sent a clear message to the Government that it should not interfere.

Three thoughts in response to this:

  1. If the Trust wanted to avoid government interference, perhaps it could have considered a set of financial arrangements that looked less like money laundering;
  2. To avoid government interference, the Trust might also have considered using normal standards to judge whether things like wedding dresses were legitimate Trust expenditure;
  3. Good call by Maori King Tuheitia to remove Tukoroirangi Morgan from the trust at this stage. He doesn’t exactly convey credibility on these issues.

lprent: It’d be a damn shame to lose the good work that the Kōhanga Reo funding is meant to (and mostly is) supporting because some fools at the head office are trying to avoid normal transparent accounting standards that apply to all government funding, or any legitimate organization and business for that matter. Quite simply it is up the Kōhanga Reo Trust to earn the confidence of the taxpayers and the government. To do that they need to make their use of taxpayer funds quite transparent both to the auditors and to their own members.

14 comments on “Polity: Kohanga Reo trust comes out swinging”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    The National Party exists to launder public money. Is this why Parrotty couldn’t see what was wrong with the KRT’s arrangements?

  2. Jim 2

    I understand that the staff member at the Kohanga Reo national office who used the work credit card to purchase her wedding dress has lost her job. This was stated by Derik Fox (Kohunga Reo National Trust spokes person )on 3 news last week. I have heard that there is currently an employment dispute in regards to this, hence there is little being said about it. The National trust has done or is doing an external audit of their subsidiary company.
    It is not clear what the email sent to Hekia Parata, and prompted her to bring in the serious fraud office, actually contains. Shonky when interviewed at the time stated that the information in the email was not substantiated. Derik Fox at the time stated that he was a where of the contents of the email and that the accusations contained in it where not true.
    Since the issues that came to light on Maori TV’s Native Affairs last year the board has moved to consider changes in its structure. For a national Maori organisation this takes time to do properly. The Hui last weekend shows substantial progress is being made.
    So the issue is either about an unsubstantiated email to Hekia Parata or it is a grab by the NATS to control the funding of Kohanga. The inference is that its all right for grossly over funded carter schools but not for a Treaty Of Waitangi hearing verified vastly under funded nation Maori organisation.

    • lprent 2.1

      Good to know. There is a paucity of information.

      But from what has been reported, the most troubling aspect has been the way that the aspect that Rob Salmond said

      If the Trust wanted to avoid government interference, perhaps it could have considered a set of financial arrangements that looked less like money laundering;

      The structure with the Te Pataka Ohanga subsidiary which appears to have either been wholly owned by the KR or completely controlled by the same group as were running the KR is a totally and blatantly obvious accounting / transparency dodge in my view.

      The more that I hear Derek Fox waffle on about how it is a separate entity that happens to make all of its income from the KR, the more suspicious I am of it. The bloody useless terms of reference that Parata “gave” E&Y just looks like a coverup for festering corruption.

      So far I haven’t a single credible explanation about why TPO exists in the first place. Since it it looks like laundering device for taxpayer funds, then it is up to the KR to damn well prove it was not. As far as I’m aware, that is why the attention focused on it.

  3. Jim 3

    Thanks Iprent, I agree that the extent of funds going through Te Paka Ohanga seems odd. Boards that I have been on have used such subsidiary companies to employ and pay employees and little else. The board member for life thing seems very odd to. This structure was set up over 30 years ago and is currently under going a change process. The recommendations from the board to the national hui at the weekend involved both scrapping Te Paka Ohanga and the board member for life thing.

    In the back ground the NKRT was successful in its Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal case last year in proving vast under funding over many years compared to other government funded pre school programmes. The NATS have used this drama to suspend negotiations on this treaty claim. One can only wonder as to why this dirty laundry has come out at this time.

    Given that NKRT will get a substantial compensation and or substantially increased funding as a result of this claim it is appropriate that NKRT has re organises its self into a more transparent structure. It is also understandable that the NATS would move to have more control over these increased funds. Kohunga Reo has always been fiercely independent of government interference and will probably continue to be so.

  4. red blooded 4

    It’s fine to be fiercely independent about learning programmes and cultural identity issues, but all government funded bodies should have transparent accounting structures. That’s one of my (many) criticisms of charter schools – they rake in the money from the public purse and don’t have to account for how they spend it.

    Kōhanga Rēo does fine work; if people can look honestly at their structures and management practices and make any changes needed then they should continue to do fine work.

  5. RedBaronCV 5

    Doesn’t look like a terribly over funded organistion , revenue $12m average salaries from the charity website around the $59000 mark so doen’t look to overcooked there. HO expenses are quite large, close to the salary mark, nothing a decent expenses audit couldn’t sort out. Waitangi claims lawyers fees in there. The trust is audited by KPMG(2012) and consolidates TPO. Structure may be historic, separating charity bit from the operating arm providing services to individual Kohanga reo.
    I’m not so sure why a fairly routine audit over somebody who felt a bit overentitled has been blown up in so many faces.

    • Foreign Waka 5.1

      Because it is taxpayer money and has to be accounted for as any other. Your argument does not hold water as it would be akin to say that it is OK to take your neighbors belongings.

      • RedBaronCV 5.1.1

        Hey FW didn’t mean to give the impression that it is okay to take the neighbour’s belongings – its not.
        Just wondering out loud why this bit of of overentitlement by someone(unfortunately it does happen more often than any of us wish) hasn’t been dealt to on the usual lines of pay it back, move the person along, tighten the systems but has been allowed to run amuck and splatter quite a few people. The procedures for dealing with this sort of thing are usually pretty straightforward and it’s not difficult to see there is a problem. Makes me wonder what we are not being told here.

        • Foreign Waka

          All good, I think that it is the T Morgan disease and some people can give an organization or even a whole profession a bad name. The danger with having no checks and balances with tax payer moneys as it seem to be in this case is the slow inserting of backhand favors, fiefdom and corruption further down the line.

  6. Jim 6

    The employee of Kohunga Head Office who used her credit card to purchase her wedding dress has lost her job. So how does RedBaronCV’s comment mean that its OK to take your neighbour’s belongings. Apart from this wedding dress issue all the other spending issues seem to have been explained as legitimate expenses. Once you start debating paying koha rather than consulting fees for work that has been legitimately done you are drawing a very long bow. There has to date been no specific suggestion that TKR Head Office or TPO have lax accountability to Government Financially. There has been generalisations by both Hekia Parata and John Key hinting at financial accountability issues. They are hiding behind the referral to the serious fraud office so as to say nothing. I understand that the serious fraud office is currently looking to see if there is an issue or not. My guess is that some time in the future when all this has died down the serous fraud office will find that there was no grounds for a complaint in the first place.
    So what’s going on here. When a treaty claim is negotiated with government, government like the claim recipient to set up a governance structure of its choosing. Government would prefer a board of political appointments to run the show, like Maori TV. The Maori King has called and hosted a national hui to decide the make up from the flax roots up. Quite democratic eh! This in my view is not about a wedding dress or financial accountability, but rather who controls the governance of Kohunga Reo going forward.

    • Foreign Waka 6.1

      No, this is about money paid by the taxpayer.
      At no stage does it mean that I have to pay for wedding dresses or anything that falls outside infrastructure, agreed social services, insurances etc.

      Use Tax in a sentence
      [taks] Show IPA
      a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.

      A fee charged (“levied”) by a government on a product, income, or activity. If tax is levied directly on personal or corporate income, then it is a direct tax. If tax is levied on the price of a good or service, then it is called an indirect tax. The purpose of taxation is to finance government expenditure. One of the most important uses of taxes is to finance public goods and services, such as street lighting and street cleaning. Since public goods and services do not allow a non-payer to be excluded, or allow exclusion by a consumer, there cannot be a market in the good or service, and so they need to be provided by the government or a quasi-government agency, which tend to finance themselves largely through taxes.

  7. Once you start debating paying koha rather than consulting fees for work that has been legitimately done you are drawing a very long bow.

    A better way of putting it would be “Once you start letting people pay koha with taxpayers’ money, you are creating future corruption scandals.”

    • Jim 7.1

      So Psycho Milt if you where to call the same receipted payment for work legitimately done and auditable, consulting fees rather than koha you would be OK with that.

      • Psycho Milt 7.1.1

        I expect that if they have receipts for what happened to stuff like the thousands in cash withdrawn at petrol stations, the SFO isn’t going to have a lot to do.

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