National | Hekia Parata

Minister’s mis-step in Parliament

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board again featured in Parliament discussions today, following the Ministry of Education's announcement of an independent audit.

The Minister of Māori Affairs and Associate Minister of Education, Pita Sharples, initially claimed it was the night Native Affairs aired its story that he first became aware of allegations regarding financial expenditure, but according to emails from the current affairs show requesting comment on the issues raised, the Minister's office was in fact contacted in relation to Te Kōhanga Reo and issues of financial management, not on the 14th of October, but a month earlier, on the 4th of September.

A short while later the Minister returned to the debating chamber to correct his mistake.

The  Minister's office says it was on the 24th of September that he first became aware, saying the wording "issues of financial management" in the email on the 4th was not an indicator of financial mismanagement.

Nevertheless, Nanaia Mahuta says no matter the particular date, what is prevelant is the Minister's delay in discussing allegations of problems within Te Kōhanga Reo with lead education Minister, Hekia Parata.

The problem perhaps is the objection by some to reporting on such matters. Long-time broadcasters have aired their views that the issues should be kept in-house, while the co-leader of the Māori Party Tariana Turis expressed her disappointment with Māori Television.

Turia says, “it’s inappropriate really for Māori Television to be casting aspersions on this organisation”

However the collective of Kōhanga Reo from Mataatua Tauranga-Moana stand by their decision to go public and say that if Māori protocol was followed in the case of dismissing its former CEO Titoki Black, the issues thereafter would never have been made public.

The audit is expected to be completed in six weeks.