Complaints mount about Dunedin after-school provider

Macandrew Bay School principal Nic Brown. Photo: ODT files
Macandrew Bay School principal Nic Brown. Photo: ODT files
Stressed staff owed money by a beleaguered after-school provider are calling on the owner to front up about its future as a government investigation begins.

My After-School Headquarters (Mash) provides programmes for primary school pupils in the South Island including Dunedin.

Government agency Te Kāhui Kāhu, which provides accreditation to Mash, yesterday confirmed it was "responding to three complaints about not delivering programmes, parents being unable to access refunds for cancelled programmes and adult-child ratios".

Te Kāhui Kāhu general manager Nicky Smith said it independently assessed providers against a range of minimum standards including health and safety, governance and management, financial sustainability, and client services.

"Accreditation by Te Kāhui Kāhu (Social Services Accreditation) provides families, communities and government agencies with an assurance that the provider can deliver a safe, quality service."

The Otago Daily Times has been told Dunedin-based staff for Mash have consistently received incorrect payment from the company, with little or no communication about it, leaving them "stressed and worried".

Staff who spoke to the ODT said they wanted the company’s directors to "front up" on the issues, and give clear guidance about the company’s future.

"You’ve got to think about the children," a staff member told the ODT.

The staff were worried about the "flow on" impact for children and parents if issues continued.

Earlier this week, the ODT received reports from Green Island School and Outram School about Mash failing to pay for venue hire, and yesterday Macandrew Bay School principal Nic Brown said her school had experienced similar problems with Mash.

"The non-payment seems to be a big issue.

"We made a number of attempts to get in touch with Mash, but once the issue arose, we had no success."

Christchurch-based Mash took over from Magic Kids in Dunedin in September 2022, and at the start of its operations in the city, the company was "all go", Ms Brown said.

"When Mash arrived in the city, they seemed to have the right credentials. It’s such a shame, really, that this happened.

"I really feel for the Dunedin staff. It’s not their fault."

Macandrew Bay School switched from Mash to Kidz Active in the middle of last year, because it had become too much of a hassle chasing up payments from Mash, she said.

"Changing to Kidz Active was the best decision for our school."

Kidz Active manager Liam Little said it had picked up at least six schools in Dunedin which used to contract Mash.

"For us, we like to keep the programmes as active and structured as possible.

"We’re very focused on continuity, and that includes our staff."

Repeated attempts to reach Mash managing director Craig Fortune for comment have been unsuccessful.