The under-fire trust that runs the kohanga reo network is
refusing to identify which of its board members got a $50,000
off-the-books koha payment.
The refusal places Education Minister Hekia Parata in a tight
spot - her officials have said the person should be
The payment was one of a cluster of issues identified in the
EY (Ernst & Young) report into Te Kohanga Reo National
Trust. The report did not deal with the allegations which
sparked the inquiry - they were ruled out of bounds.
But the $50,000 payment was inside the review's limited remit
and it was identified among a number of credit card and koha
rule breaches. The problems were singled out in a briefing
note from the Ministry of Education to Ms Parata.
Early childhood education general manager Karl Le Quesne said
the trust "was required to disclose this payment in their
2012 annual report".
Ms Parata's office did not return calls to say whether she
backed her officials' view.
But the trust's spokesman, Derek Fox, said the trust would
not reveal which of its board members got the payment.
He said it was a payment to a board member who had worked
"well above the call of duty"on its successful claim to the
"It wasn't a related party transaction - it was a koha," said
Fresh claims of misspending by the trust have been referred
by Ms Parata and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples to the
Serious Fraud Office, though some are questioning why it took
so long to target the source of the original allegations.
The SFO will look at the trust's commercial wing, Te Pataka
It came after an unnamed trustee wrote to the ministers with
new allegations about the trust's spending which Ms Parata
said she could not ignore.
The SFO inquiry came after the release of an independent
audit on Monday evening, which found no misuse of public
money by the trust. The EY audit did not look at spending by
Te Pataka Ohanga because it was deemed a private
Prime Minister John Key, in China, said Ms Parata was right
to take the issue "very seriously"because it related to the
spending of taxpayers' money.
The case originally came to light on a Native Affairs
programme which detailed the subsidiary's spending on a
wedding dress, a Trelise Cooper dress and cash withdrawals
for the general manager's daughter.
Ms Parata said it was a third party which the Government had
no power over.
Labour leader David Cunliffe said he did not accept this
- Isaac Davison and David Fisher of the New Zealand