Te Puni Kokiri acknowledges it needs to do more to
monitor some of its Whanau Ora programmes, but says it is
otherwise pleased with early indications the programmes are
having a positive impact on families.
However, New Zealand First says the latest report into Whanau
Ora confirms it is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a
scheme which provides little more than money for family
Party leader Winston Peters' comment came after the release
of an evaluation of the Whanau Ora Integration, Innovation
and Engagement (WIIE) Fund, which found $7.7 million taxpayer
money was distributed to families this year without the
results being measured.
The fund distributed $4.9 million in 2010-11, $7.7 million in
2011-12 and was expected to be allocated $6.4 million for
2012-13 and $8.4 million in later years.
The fund allows families to apply for up to $20,000 in grants
to create and implement personalised plans to achieve goals
like stopping gambling or leading healthier lifestyles.
The evaluation was reported on by Radio New Zealand this
week, the day after a Dunedin gang member, who used $20,000
of Whanau Ora funding to buy cannabis to sell, was sent to
prison for four years.
The court heard police intercepted calls in which Korrey
Teeati Cook (36) outlined a plan to increase the bank balance
of a trust he helped operate by initially claiming $5000 fees
for building a whanau plan, and keeping the money instead of
giving it to families.
He talked about how he hoped to raise through the trust
$115,000 this year from submitting such plans, and calls
revealed he was mentoring another local gang on how to obtain
The evaluation report on the WIIE Fund said although there
was some evidence the fund was helping families, it was not
known how many whanau plans had been written or completed and
what the outcome of them was.
It also found the funds were being unevenly allocated across
New Zealand - a high-needs area such as Northland was only
receiving 7% of the funding.
Despite that, Te Puni Kokiri said it was happy with the
performance of the fund, although it would refine its
procedures and practices in response.
About 33,000 people in more than 2000 families had accessed
support from the fund to put together development goals and
plans for their members, a statement from the ministry said.
The independent evaluation found bringing whanau together,
backed up by good-quality support, was transformative in
"This is a positive indication of the impact that the fund is
having, but gathering a stronger evidence base will be a
priority for the fund and the wider Whanau Ora effort going
Comprehensive performance and outcome data for Whanau Ora had
always been a key requirement for Te Puni Kokiri and a range
of information gathering and performance reporting processes
had been developed since Whanau Ora started.
The most recent was a trial to collect information on whanau
satisfaction with services provided through the wider Whanau
Ora programme and support offered to families, which was
piloted by seven providers and provider collectives this
The results were similar to the WIIE Fund evaluation, and
indicated early positive changes for whanau as a result of
Whanau Ora, the statement said.
Mr Peters, a long-time critic of Whanau Ora, said he found
the WIIE Fund evaluation report largely indecipherable.
"In that regard it's just like the ill-conceived Whanau Ora,
which is a touchy-feely scheme which ignores the real plight
"Struggling Maori families need help in vital areas such as
health, education, housing and employment, not taxpayer
funding for rugby games and sausage sizzles."
The report identified alarming deficiencies with the scheme,
"There is no basic data available on participation levels,
and glaring monitoring gaps on where millions of taxpayer
dollars are going."
The report would have called for Whanau Ora to be scrapped
had it been conducted by a truly independent organisation, he