No Fraud Found in Wananga Audit
December 5, 2005
No Fraud Found in Wānanga Audit
Rongo Wetere, Tumuaki of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, said the completion of the Auditor General's report into the Wānanga is an opportunity to bring an end to politically-driven attacks on New Zealand's largest tertiary institution.
Mr Wetere took leave from the Wānanga in August to work on responses to the Auditor General's investigation, which was sparked by government concerns about the Wānanga’s extraordinary growth and by allegations of mismanagement, extravagance, poor course quality and nepotism made by former ACT MP Hon Ken Shirley.
"The Auditor General found there was no fraud, no corruption and no nepotism," Mr Wetere said.
"He did identify poor decision-making practices for some expenditure, inadequate identification and management of conflicts of interest and unacceptable practices regarding my international travel and credit card use.
"While I accept there was room for improvement in some of the Wānanga’s procedures, the Wānanga's council was making significant progress in addressing many of the issues even before the Auditor General was called in. I am disappointed the Auditor General ignored most of the responses provided.
"I am also disappointed the Crown Managers did not fully cooperate with the investigation and make available all the documentation held by the Wānanga."
Since March the Wānanga has been under the control of a Crown Manager, Price Waterhouse Coopers partner Brian Roche, and since July, governed by a reduced five-member council which includes a majority of Crown appointees.
Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen last month wrote to Wānanga council chairman Craig Coxhead expressing concern the five-member council was not legal and recommending a proper council be put in place as soon as possible so decisions could be made on funding for 2006.
Mr Wetere said he welcomes Dr Cullen's intervention and looks forward to sitting down with the full council as soon as possible to map the Wānanga's future.
"I also want to meet Dr Cullen as soon as possible so we can put the unfortunate events of this year behind us," Mr Wetere said.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa grew out of training programmes run by Rongo Wetere in Te Awamutu in 1983. In 1993 it became a wānanga under the Education Act 1989, giving it the legal status of a Crown entity and a public entity. As a result of funding rule changes following a Waitangi Tribunal claim into the level of capital funding wānanga were entitled to, the Wānanga entered a period of growth, from 1000 students in 1999 to 63,387 in 2003. In 2004 it received $156 million in Crown funding.
After a successful career in the insurance industry, Rongo Wetere started Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 1983 in his home town Te Awamutu. While its initial focus was unemployed Māori, his commitment to innovative community-driven and community-directed initiatives attracted a wide range of students who were not being catered to by other tertiary education institutions.
Mr Wetere has honorary doctorates from Auckland University of Technology and Sinte Gleska University in the United States.