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Whanau Ora at risk of incompetence

Government Ministry head should roll and investigation launched: Whanau Ora at risk of incompetence

The Head of the Ministry of Maori Development (Te Puni Kokiri) must go as incompetence that led to a $600,000 payment to a private shareholder was exposed in Parliament.

At hearing of the Maori Affairs Select Committee at Parliament this week the existence of a $600,000 private shareholder payment from Whanau Ora contractor, Te Pou Matakana, to its major shareholder, the National Urban Maori Authority, was exposed leading many to ask how it could have happened. Whanau Ora funding is administered by Te Puni Kokiri to help providers support vulnerable and in need Maori when it comes to health and whanau well-being.

Matthew Tukaki, Chair of the National Maori Authority has said the Auditor General must be called in and an independent investigation must be launched to get to the bottom of how this situation was allowed to happen:

“First of all no one should trust Te Puni kokiri to handle this investigation themselves because clearly it’s their incompetence that has led to this happening. It is unbelievable that they wouldn’t have checked and cross checked contracts which means they are either skill deprived or incompetent. It’s hard to accept that with dozens or hundreds of contractors and consultants that an agency so important to Maori could continue to bungle its way through our affairs.” He said

“To think that $600,000, as a surplus, could be given away as some kind of shareholder dividend says more about the ethics and morals involved than it does the savvy practice of a few people who put together a contract that would even allow this to happen – but let’s focus on what that $600,000 could have been spent on:

1. 60,000 school lunches for our kids

2. 32,300 hours of mental health support workers per annum

3. 12 graduate nurses with $36,000 left over

4. A near full payment for a kiwi build house that could have been turned into a safe refuge for our whanau escaping domestic violence

5. 36,630 hours of aged care worker support per annum

“My point is simply this – that money, all whanau ora money, is intended to help and support the most vulnerable in our community so it stands to reason that the tax payer should expect it to be spent as such.” Tukaki said

“What needs to happen now is the Auditor General needs to intervene and audit the accounts of all of those involved. An immediate investigation needs to be launched into Te Puni Kokiri’s handling of the contract management side of things and it should be independent. We need to ensure that whatever happens next with Whanau Ora that the program is tightened and a greater degree of transparency occurs as well as tighter governance and contractual oversight.” Tukaki said

“Our people expect a lot more than just glib statements and I would remind Minister Jackson that if Minister Henare is not in possession of all of the information (as he claimed to One News on the 6th of December) then he would agree that everything be placed on the table.” Tukaki said


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