The Ernst and Young, Independent review of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust has been released and Education Minister Hekia Parata says it shows “the Trust’s financial controls are effective.”
The Education Minister and Minister of Māori Affairs, Pita Sharples released the report in a press conference tonight.
The Trust receives around $92 million a year in public funding and questions were raised last year after a Native Affairs investigation into credit card use and spending within Te Pātaka Ōhanga, a subsidiary of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.
Native Affairs was approached by Kōhanga of Mataatua and Tauranga who initially raised concerns and following its investigation a range of questionable purchases using Te Pātaka Ōhanga funds were identified which included a Trelise Cooper wedding dress.
Minister Parata says, “It was important, given allegations about inappropriate credit card use at the Trust’s private company Te Pataka Ohanga, to establish that there were proper financial controls around the public funding provided for kōhanga reo.”
The Minister says, the review “found the Trust’s financial controls are effective for an operation of its size and complexity."
However the report clearly outlines a need for change around credit card returns and koha payments. According to the review there were processes in place to appropriately monitor and track credit card spending which among other things outlines all credit card returns were to be supported with the appropriate documentation.
After reviewing the 2012 credit card returns in detail, the report noted, ”many returns did not include relevant supporting documentation. We also noted that many returns had not been signed by the card holder and were not being prepared in a timely manner. We identified monthly credit card returns which were completed up to three months after the expenditure had occurred.”
The review also highlighted a koha payment of $50,000 made in December 2012 which was not included in the Trust’s 2012 Annual Report.
The report states, “This payment was a matter discussed in Committee by the Board, and related to the substantial contribution made by the recipient during the extended Waitangi claim process. The Board has the authority to make such a payment.”
Parata says,“The Trust is working through the review’s recommendations around accounts processing, documentation and the recording of koha. In the meantime, it has cancelled all credit cards.”
In regards to questions raised by Mataatua, Tauranga Kōhanga Reo about lifetime membership of Board members on the Trust the Minister of Education says, “It is important that the Trust take this opportunity to assess whether their current arrangements meet the challenges of being a modern organisation, responsive to the needs of whānau.”
King Tuheitia extended an invitation to meet with Kōhanga from the Mataatua,Tauranga region next month. Mataatua, Tauranga Moana representatives say they want transparency in business when it comes to the Trust and no doubt the findings of this report will be discussed at that meeting.