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The late night press conference and mischaracterisation of the report into the independent audit into Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust by cabinet ministers involved is shameful, Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams says.
"The Ernst Young review did not even look at the key allegations at Te Pataka Ohanga. It’s not vindication, it’s a whitewash.”
Speaking on National Radio this morning Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board media adviser Derek Fox said Te Pataka Ohanga directors had brought in outside assistance to mount their own investigation. Asked for details of the investigation, he said it was a private matter for a private company, just as Whitcoulls (to use his example) would not share details of an internal investigation.
At a press conference at 8pm last night ,Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Pita Sharples said the independent EY review had shown the trust’s financial controls are effective.
“The trust receives $92 million a year in public funding. 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,” Ms Parata said.
“The Ernst & Young Review shows that the trust was legitimately buying services for Kōhanga Reo from Te Pātaka Ohanga and there was no misuse of public monies in this regard.
“It found the trust’s financial controls are effective for an operation of its size and complexity but some improvements are needed around credit card returns and koha payments.
“The key allegation that public money, meant for teaching kids, was used for dresses, fuel and cash withdrawals, was ignored,” Mr Williams says.
“The fact that the alleged misappropriation occurred within a subsidiary company and not Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust is irrelevant. What other publicly funded entity can avoid audit scrutiny by simply creating a subsidiary company? If this attitude was the norm, the public audit process would be meaningless.
“The characterisation by Hekia Parata that the trust's commercial arm does not receive taxpayer funding is cute. TPO provides support to individual kōhanga reo and receives funding via them.
“Instead of getting to the bottom of the allegations, Hekia Parata and Dr Pita Sharples have chosen to turn a blind eye to what are serious allegations."
Mr Fox says the report found no wrong doing. "It's written in English. People should read it for themselves," he said on RNZ this morning.
RAW DATA: The EY Report | Read the Minister and Associate Education's statement