National | High Court

Kōhanga Reo National Trust accepts court ruling

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust has accepted a High Court ruling that it was wrong to sack a trustee that blew the whistle on the organisation.

The trust fired Toni Waho in 2014 after he notified the Associate and Minister of Education that there was a list of allegations of wrongdoing in the trust.

In her ruling, Justice Clark said Waho acted with integrity and was unlawfully dismissed.

Trustee for the Kōhanga Reo National Trust, Te Waihoroi Shortland told Kawekōrero they accept the court decision.

He says, “We agree with the court ruling but we remain focused to move on and support the kaupapa of kōhanga reo”.

While Waho's disclosure to the minister triggered an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into the trust's financial arm, the SFO later found no crimes had been committed.

Waho, however, was accused of bringing his fellow trustees into collective disrepute and lost his job.

The High Court has found Waho acted with integrity and did not bring the trust into disrepute.

Te Waihoroi Shortland responded with a sense of humorous aroha when asked whether the kōhanga reo trust would open their arms and welcome Waho back.

“We will leave that decision up to Mr Waho but the current trustees hold no ill-will toward Mr Waho, he said.

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust has to pay Waho what he would have earned since his dismissal in November 2014 up until the recent court ruling.

It also has to pay his court costs.

Shortland said they agree with the court decision to pay the outstanding honorarium to Waho but he cautioned no meeting had taken place between the respective parties.