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Minister wants wider inquiry into allegations

Minister wants wider inquiry into allegations against Act MP

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today he wants the inquiry by the Auditor -General into allegations against Act MP Donna Awatere Huata widened to also include the circumstances surrounding the original decision of the then National Government to give the Pipi Foundation funding.

“I agree there should be an inquiry and I will be asking the Auditor-General to extend his inquiry into the circumstances around the original decision to give funding to the foundation, taken by the Cabinet in 1999 while Nick Smith was minister,” Trevor Mallard said.

Donna Awatere Huata’s Four Minute Reading Programme, run by the Pipi Foundation, was funded at a rate of $250,000 a year by the Ministry of Education, as a result of that decision.

“There were no cabinet papers on this decision but just a cabinet directive to the Ministry of Education to fund the foundation. I have serious doubts around the process.”

“There are mixed views on the programme which was funded. It is supported by the schools in which it ran but at least one school has a close family relationship with the Huata family.”

“Because of concerns around the programme and notwithstanding the cabinet minute for funding, and discussions on this – no money has been paid to the foundation since the problems were drawn to my attention.”

“We were also aware of allegations in relation to the use of the foundation’s funds. I decided to hold rescinding the original cabinet minute until such time as we knew the outcome of police investigations and a court hearing into those allegations. Now that that court case is over, I will be request Cabinet to rescind Nick Smith’s minute.”

“I will also be asking Education Ministry officials to fully cooperate with the police or Serious Fraud Office if required,” Trevor Mallard said.

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