Topic: Kōhanga Reo

Lynda Tawhiwhirangi pursues hefty exit package

By Maiki Sherman

Lynda Tawhiwhirangi is at the centre of an audit investigation by the Ministry of Education.

The former general manager of Te Pātaka Ōhanga faces allegations of misusing thousands of dollars worth of funds.

The findings of the audit report are yet to be released, but she's currently seeking an exit package of about $400,000.

It's a figure which has shocked Waiarani Harawira, one of the elders of the Kōhanga collective from Mataatua and Tauranga Moana who first sparked the questions resulting in this matter.    

According to Waiarani Harawira, “If she receives more money, I have to ask what we are doing.   When you see that a person has done wrong and made mistakes, which the entire country has seen, you would think its only right to end it there.”

Te Kāea visited Lynda Tawhiwhirangi's house seeking answers, and although she was home, she wouldn't come outside.

When contacted for comment, Te Pātaka Ōhanga board member Te Wharehuia Milroy told Te Kāea,  “I can't comment on the issue because if we do, Lynda may turn around and take legal avenues against us.  Legal issues are a big problem at play here.”

Druis Barrett, board member of Te Pātaka Ōhanga and the National Trust, strongly objects to Lynda Tawhiwhirangi receiving such money.

That is believed to be the reason for her recent dismissal from the board of Te Pātaka Ōhanga.

Druis Barrett was instrumental in the initiation of the board's inquiry into the allegations of misusing funds.   

The issue has now escalated to a political level.  

Yesterday a meeting was called by the Māori Party with Druis Barrett and other national trust board members.

Pita Sharples believes, “They are an example for the entire country.

"Every member on that board is a leader and it's time we all sat down as a whānau to show our Kōhanga that, yes, this is a group of leaders we can look up to.”

Te Kāea understands the trust board want to hold hui around the country to discuss the current developments with all köhanga reo whānau, however they want to ensure the issues are sorted first.

Given the severity of some of the issues, there will undoubtedly be many questions ahead.