Friday, September 27, 2013

Mike Butler: Whanau Ora money trail elusive

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters this week tried to find out from Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia whether she handed out cash to Maori social service providers to help them prepare bids to become commissioning agents for the Whanau Ora scheme.

The government’s Maori department, Te Puni Kokiri, is running a process to appoint non-government organisations as commissioning agents who will allocate Whanau Ora funding to providers of health and social service providers.

Peters’ questions on Tuesday in Parliament were whether Turia gave $500,000 plus expert help to the National Hauora Coalition and $3-million to the Iwi Leaders Forum to help their bids to become commissioning agents.

Turia declared "I have no idea what the member is talking about", did an impromptu victory high-five with her Maori Party colleague Te Ururoa Flavell, and later showed media her response to emails produced by Peters in Parliament, making it clear that the funding specified by Peters was unavailable.

Sonny Tau confirmed the Iwi Chairs Forum had applied for the role of commissioning agent for both the North and South Islands.

While Peters may not have succeeded in uncovering extra financial help from Turia to Maori social service providers, he is quite accurate in saying the commissioning model would "transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to iwi-led organisations that will not be publicly accountable or subject to the usual rules surrounding the public service".

Vote Maori Affairs in this year's Budget says the Minister for Whanau Ora is responsible for just over $53-million this year.

The Whanau Ora programme creates a network of “navigators” to help beneficiaries around the complexities of government welfare agencies and scope for commissioning agents and social service providers to take a cut as the money flows on through.

Peters has dogged the scheme from its inception. He found that that thousands could access up to $20,000 of Whanau Ora cash for family get-togethers. Turia has confirmed that more than $6-million had been paid to over 2000 applicants to the scheme labelled “Whanau Integration, Innovation, and Engagement”.

Otaki’s Rahui Rugby and Sports Club received $60,000 in 2011 to “undertake whanau development research” on resilience, “whanau connectedness” and community leadership in a scheme that Peters said was proof that the Whanau Ora scheme was a “bro-ocracy”.

It got worse. Four members of the We Against Violence charitable trust, that Dunedin police said were known members of the Mongrel Mob, were charged in May last year after nearly $100,000 worth of cannabis was seized, and alleged misuse of government funding was uncovered. Ten were arrested.

One of those arrested was jailed for four years for dishonestly converting $20,000 of trust money, conspiring to sell cannabis and possessing cannabis for supply. At the time of the offending he was on bail for violence charges.


Jigsaw said...
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Financial rorts of the government finances go back many years and Michael Bassett in his book on the fourth Labour government details the lack of accountability in Maori accounts which were usually just papered over. the whole Whanua Ora scheme is a rort but don't expect anything different from Labour-Greens government-it will only get worse. Ms Turia comes across as a patient wise old lady-what a wonderful act!And so well practised.

Chris said...
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It's the job of the Maori politicians to find a way to keep the gravy train going for 'their people' while the rest of us go to work every day and pay taxes. Really disgusting.

Anonymous said...
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This is precisely why the Key government will not get my vote next year, racist, corrupt and so 'needy' of the Maori party vote it will do anything. Colin Craigs conservative party is the only political group with the fortitude to stand up against this corrupt theft.

Glenn said...
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Hi anonymous, You need to think more carefully about where your vote goes. If you support the conservative party only then we will likely end up with a labour / greens coalition which will be another absolute disaster. You need to vote for national & the conservative party ( you have two votes ) so that they ( the conservatives )get 5% & then they can be the tail that wags the dog thus allowing them to hold teh balance of power & then we will start getting some sensible policies through the manky MMP process that we have.

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