According to Te Maru o Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa, for more than ten years now, concerns have been grumbling amongst kōhanga reo regarding finances. Chairman, Pem Bird, says that the problem is most are scared to publicly voice those concerns to the board.
Accroding to Pem, “this is the difficulty as to why they have never been aired, it's because they do not want to question those leaders, because they are very much leaders, and so they don't want to make known formally their allegations.”
Te Maru o Ngā Kura ā Iwi supports the call for an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. According to former chairman, Sir Toby Curtis, it's clear the waters are troubled.
“As I see it, the board did not exhaust all avenues to clear these allegations aimed at them, however, time will tell if in fact or not they were in the wrong.”
This is the message the National Trust has sent kōhanga reo across the country. It relates to the audit report and its finding no public funds had been misspent and were also not given to Te Pātaka Ōhanga. However, it also includes the fact Te Pātaka Ōhanga is under investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs but does not give a reason why.
So, both the Serious Fraud Office and Department of Internal Affairs have now been pulled in to investigate allegations of misspending. And despite the board's persistence, Te Pātaka Ōhanga is a private company, Pem Bird says they're one in the same.
“The responsibility for Te Pātaka Ōhanga lies with the National Trust, it starts and ends there. It's only right that company is investigated.”
Hekia Parata confirmed the latest allegations regarding misspending came from a trustee. A sign of division amongst the board which was seen during the spat to dismiss Druis Barrett from her role on the board of Te Pātaka Ōhanga. All of this has sparked the question whether the current board members should step down and also whether language nests across the country should have a say on who sits on the board?
Sir Toby Curtis weighed in to the discussion saying “those on the board are some of our men and women who have fought hard for the language, so we need to see take a second look now, it may be a good time to get some of our younger ones onto the board.”
Te Kāea political reporter, Maiki Sherman today made an attempt to contact the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust but they continue to decline to speak with Māori Television.