Topic: Kōhanga Reo

Te Pātaka Ōhanga board member dismissed

By Maiki Sherman

A board member of Te Pātaka Ōhanga, the subsidiary company of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, has been dismissed from her position. Druis Barrett is one of three board members of Te Pātaka Ōhanga. According to information received by Te Kāea, she was dismissed from the role in recent weeks.

At the end of this month it's understood an audit review of Te Pātaka Ōhanga will be released, commissioned by the Ministry of Education following allegations of inappropriate spending by former general manager, Lynda Tāwhiwhirangi.      

It is still unclear as to the exact ramifcations which lead to Druis Barrett being dismissed from her position on the board of Te Pātaka Ōhanga. Te Kāea political reporter, Maiki Sherman made attempts to contact her for comment on the issue but to no avail. However, our reporter did converse over the phone with both the co-chairs of the National Trust, Timoti Karetu and Tina Ratana-Olsen, however, they said the board would not be speaking to Māori Television. And it doesn't end there. It's understood that vacant position is being sought out by Tukoroirangi Morgan, the newest member to be elected to the National Trust board. 

Druis Barrett was the only board member of Te Pātaka Ōhanga to front up to parliament and meet with ministers, she was also instrumental in the initiation of a review by the Kōhanga Reo into allegations of inappropriate spending. However, she was recently dismissed from her role as a board member which has sparked numerous questions.         

Lorraine Hall, a spokeswoman for Mātaatua/Tauranga Moana says, “there are four members of the board, what of the rest of them? I feel for Druis in that situation if it's true, we haven't heard that, I've only just learnt of it.”

National Trust Board procedures are at the heart of a challenge by a collective of kōhanga reo from Mātaatua and Tauranga Moana. An issue they took straight to the top, in particular regarding dismissal procedures and election to the national board. Which is why they're upset to hear Tukoroirangi Morgan has been appointed as a new member to the national board.  

“That was one of our challenges to the board regarding the election process of people onto the board, so if he has been appointed a position I'm quite shocked at that” says Lorraine.

Tukoroirangi Morgan was a representative for King Tuheitia on the national board last year. However, in December he was appointed as an independent member. It's understood Morgan has since shown interest in a position on the Te Pātaka Ōhanga board.

“The board has not yet sent a message to all whanau, perhaps they have sent one to some kohanga, but us here in Mataatua and Tauranga Moana haven't yet received any information as to the current situation of the board” adds Lorraine.

Despite Druis Barrett having been dismissed from her position on Te Pataka Ohanga, she still remains a member of the National Trust board. So, couple that with the fact both co-chairs are keeping their lips sealed, and we may not find out anytime soon as to why she was dismissed.

According to our political reporter, Maiki Sherman, there still remains a number of unanswered questions. Apart from Druis Barrett's dismissal, there is also the internal investigation by the National Trust into Te Pātaka Ōhanga, what did they find and more importantly what needs to be done to rectify the issues? As well as that, there's the point raised by the collective of kōhanga from Mātaatua and Tauranga Moana as to the processes of the trust, in particular regarding the dismissal of staff and appointment of board members. Both sides are yet to sit down and thoroughly discuss the matter, or whether in fact the board puts the issue up for national discussion by all kōhanga. As we know the Ministry of Education audit report is expected to be released at the end of the month regarding Te Pātaka Ōhanga, but the concern is that those issues just outlined may not be addressed through that report.