The Government's Whanau Ora scheme is being ''ripped off by
all and sundry'', New Zealand First leader Winston Peters
claims, following revelations over possible widespread gang
Yesterday the Otago Daily Times reported how four members of
the Mongrel Mob Notorious gang were able to obtain Government
funding, via the Dunedin-based trust ''We Against Violence
Those included $51,750 Whanau Ora grants given to the trust
to promote non-offensive and non-violent lifestyles, and
$5000 from the Southern District Health Board to build a
However calls intercepted by police reveal $20,000 of grant
money was transferred to a personal bank account and used to
Mr Peters said he was concerned over reports police
surveillance found a key person involved with the Dunedin
chapter was being mentored through the funding process by
senior gang members elsewhere in the country.
''That suggests it is happening elsewhere,'' he said.
The initial Whanau Ora grant also added ''respectability'' to
the trust, and made it easier to obtain funds from the health
board, he said.
Funds sourced from the district health boards were gained
with the stated intention of buying $5000 worth of gardening
equipment for the community garden project.
Documents released by the health board reveal the trust
claimed ''our project is a resolution as to how we can help
our whanau support themselves without the help of outside
agencies, therefore giving the whanau their mana and
A health board spokesman, when asked to clarify where that
garden was, confirmed the trust was looking at two possible
sites, one within Dunedin and one on the peninsula.
''The Southern DHB is unaware if a site for a community
garden was ever secured by the trust,'' he said.
Mr Peters questioned why the cash-strapped district health
board would have granted the money.
''$5000 for gardening equipment? Hell's bells, that is just
He also accused Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia of being
''in denial'' over the effectiveness of the Maori Party
flagship policy - ''This is kindergarten stuff with taxpayer
''She should be explaining why on earth she set up a system
of discretionary taxpayer funds that is so loose, so
amateurish that it is capable of being ripped off by all and
sundry, which it is.''
The Whanau Ora Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund
report, which was released late last year, identified
deficiencies with the scheme, he said.
''It highlighted the fact that no basic data is available on
participation levels, and there are glaring gaps on where
millions of taxpayer dollars are going.''
Questions to the Te Puni Kokiri, which administers Whanau
Ora, went unanswered yesterday.