Ministerial calls for axing of Waitangi National Trust financial arm

By Raniera Harrison
  • Northland

As the prime minister announces a 'Commemorating Waitangi Day' Fund, there are concerns around the financial capabilities of the event's spiritual home.

Regional Economic Minister Shane Jones says that the government won't give the Waitangi National Trust the promised funds for a new museum until it addresses the processes that led to its financial mismanagement.  

"Why are [the Waitangi Ltd sub-committee] being let off when that much money has been taken from the Trust?  Now they're in court," says Jones.

Jones' call comes following the charges laid against Wallace Tamamotu Te Ahuru by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for defrauding the Waitangi National Trust for approximately $1.2mil in 2016.

"We should not let this sub-committee keep going.  Cut it, and burn it.  It has no relevance in my view," he adds.

However, the chair of the Waitangi National Trust says the current structure between the Waitangi National Trust, and its executive arm Waitangi Ltd may reveal shortcomings.

"There are a lot of parties involved.  We need to investigate if they are in fact the right people employed to keep the Waitangi approach retained," says Pita Tipene, chair of the Trust.

Tipene believes the Trust is following procedures that will allow them to bare recipient to some part of the Provincial Growth Fund.

"We have already looked in to the restructuring matters, those matters are all views that are being bought up by the minister," says Tipene.

In June, Jones announced that the government would support the initiative through the Provincial Growth Fund. 

The museum itself, apart of the coalition deal between New Zealand First and Labour, is expected to open on Waitangi Day 2020 to commemorate 180 years since the signing of the treasured document.

"I have no problems with fighting for them to recieve funding.  However, how will the public view this government if their administrative shortcomings have not been addressed?" says the minister.

Jones says that despite numerous adversities faced by the initiative in its preliminary stages the government will continue to back it.