Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mike Butler: Koha alarm for treatyist govt

A Serious Fraud office inquiry into kohanga reo-related spending should ring alarm bells for a government committed to giving billions upon billions of state dollars and assets to private tribal entities for social services, housing, and as an “economic base”.

Allegations of the misuse of public funding by the Kohanga Reo National Trust Board’s subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga last October prompted an audit of Te KĊhanga Reo National Trust’s financial controls over public funding by Ernst & Young.(1)

Education Minister Hekia Parata last Tuesday night released the Ernst & Young audit that she said showed there was no misspending of public money by the trust, admitted the allegations which sparked the inquiry had not been addressed, and then said the matter been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.(2)

Last October by Maori Television's Native Affairs programme alleged two leaders of the trust's commercial arm, Te Pataka Ohanga, had used business credit cards to buy dresses, accommodation and gifts worth thousands of dollars. The kohanga reo trust went to the High Court to try to block Native Affairs' broadcasting the results of its seven-week investigation before backing down.(3)

Trust spokesman Derek Fox insisted that the relationship between the trust and Te Pataka Ohanga was the same as any other employer-employee relationship, and that the subsidiary was free to spend its money in whatever way it deemed appropriate.

The fact that Maori Television's Native Affairs programme broke the story of the alleged misspending meant that it could not immediately be written off as racist Maori bashing. The lengths the kohanga reo trust went to in a bid to suppress the story indicates issues that appear to go way beyond using the wrong credit in a momentary lapse.

The implications of the tangled relationships between Maori appointees and public money go beyond koha and the kohanga reo. Tracy Watkins of the Dominion Post points out that:
For Parata to hold such a view [the simple device of passing money through a subsidiary has the transformative power of turning public funds into private funds] should disturb her colleagues as much as it disturbs the public, given her seniority in a government for which devolving hundreds of millions, ultimately perhaps even billions, of dollars to third-party providers is central to its ideology. The debacle surrounding Parata's oversight of an inquiry into spending by TPO could - and should - ring bells about the Government's oversight of spending in a raft of areas, including Whanau Ora, Parata's flagship charter school roll-out, and the massive divestment of social housing to third party providers to name a few.(4)
The amount of money spent in these areas is significant. Requests for spending details for the 2012-13 year under the Official Information Act revealed Te Wananga o Aotearoa receives about $170-million, Te Puni Kokiri spends $205-million, kohanga reo language nest pre-schools receive $67.5 million with $2.64 million for administration, Whanau Ora takes $49-million.

The “economic base for Maori” treaty settlements industry meant that in the 2012-13 year Vote Treaty Negotiations consumed $519.97-million, and the Waitangi Tribunal took $10.7-million out of the Courts budget. Waikato River co-governance costs $16-million a year. Environmental accords and other co-management cost a further $6-million.

The 177 Maori social service providers around New Zealand could chew through $1.7-billion each year. Joint ventures with tribal corporations for social housing will open up another trough worth hundreds of million.

Maori entitlements commentator Morgan Godfery argues “There's a rot in Maori governance. From poor governance at Maori TV to the Kohanga Reo board, Maori aren't being served”. He also raises questions about political alliances between the National and Maori parties and the Kohanga Reo elite: “Lastly, what's Parata and Sharples connection to board members? It could be their personal relationships that lead them to protect the board. If you pick apart the fabric of Maori society you'll find important seams that connect and overlap.”(5)

There’s also a rot in the co-governance conducted by the government and tribal corporations. Regular meetings between the Iwi Leaders’ Group and Cabinet Ministers take place without comment in a way that would spark outrage from the Labour Party and the Greens if the New Zealand Business Roundtable had such access. Just imagine the uproar if the Prime Minister used Anzac Day to meet with a non-Maori business group and offer an inducement to a member company in the same way that he did with Ngapuhi on Waitangi Day this year.

Such cosy relationships give the impression of corruption. A sweep-out is needed but it is difficult to see who will pick up the broom. Labour leader David Cunliffe mounted a spirited attack on Parata today on Morning Report but it is difficult to imagine him taking on the Maori entitlements industry. His rival Shane Jones may do better, and wouldn’t be called a racist Maori-basher.

Prime Minister John Key has rejected suggestions that the Government had referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Office because it did not want to be seen to be pointing the finger at a Maori organisation.(6)

But Key has shown that he has a blindspot to do with things Maori. He appears to agree to requests from the smiling treatyists he regularly meets in the Maori Party and the Iwi Leaders’ Group as they relentlessly chase entitlements. He has agreed to Whanau Ora, helped put the marine and coastal area into a legal no-mans land for tribes to claim, agreed to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Persons, and flies the Maori sovereignty flag.

1. The Financial Review of the Kohanga Reo National Trust Board.
2. New Kohanga Reo claims spark SFO call, Stuff, March 19, 2014.
3. Editorial: Fraud office probe crucial in kohanga reo case, NZ Herald, March 20, 2014.
4. Leap of faith to believe Parata, Dominion Post, March 22, 2014.
5. Wrong questions, wrong answers: the rot in the Kohanga Reo.
6. New Kohanga Reo claims spark SFO call, Stuff, March 19, 2014.


Angry Tory said...

a government committed to giving billions upon billions of state dollars and assets to private tribal entities

Not forgetting charter schools - 100% taxpayer funded - no state oversight.

At least with treaty settlements there is no expectation of taxpayer oversight: it's up to the tribes to waste them as they wish - blowing it all on league teams or corporate boxes. Just like a state lottery win or a state employment payout.

But Kohanga Reo & Charter Schools are different. Ongoing. Taxpayers all the way.

Anonymous said...

In “Preferential Policies: An International Perspective” Black American academic, Thomas Sowell records the downstream effect of government policies promoting identity politics. Sold to the public as promoting inter-group harmony, Sowell found that wherever such policies had been tried, they invariably expanded over time in scale and scope, benefited already advantaged members of the preference group (those able to work the system), and led to increased rather than decreased inter-group polarisation. In many places they have brought about decades-long civil wars.

New Zealanders are a peaceful and tolerant people.

But one day enough is enough!

Brian said...

There is something rotten in
the State of New Zealand). It has been the lack of independent financial checks and balances in the Maori stable for a very long time.
The crime is that our Politicians are to scared to implement court action to stop and punish those using monies for individual purposes.

The amount of monies being either handed or gifted to Maori is simply not just OBSCENE, but more correctly RACIALLY OBSCENE.

Our only hope is that at this next election the Maori Party does not hold the balance of power. If it continues to do so, then the Greek financial chaos will be repeated in "God's Own".
Warning there is no E.U. to bale us out down under.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article Mike and I agree with Brian's comments. We have to wake up. This information needs to be made public. Only when all NZ'ers see the full extent of Maori greed and treachery, National's underhand and secret deals, will we, as voters, have the final democratic word.
If this rort is allowed to continue National and Maori will bankrupt our nation. This National government is the most undemocratic government we have been unfortunate to suffer.It is true, we are on theroad to bankruptcy and as Brian states, we have no one to bail us out. What then? Will we be put up for sale to the highest bidder?
Can we start a fund to publish information like this? There must be a way to bring the Key government to account for handing out billions of taxpayer dollars in secrecy. Only if the full truth is known will the voters reach decisions where their votes should go this year.

Dave said...

Good on Maori Television's Native Affairs for exposing this latest step to NZ becoming the South Pacific's Zimbabwe. The mentality of NZers was brought home with TV3 interviewing Labor leader Cunliff this morning. He remarked that we were supposed to be a 'rock star' economy but 'are you getting your share' ! as he held out his hand while rubbing his fingers together. I thought that this is what its like for the Maori tribes in NZ and the large uneducated poor, all with hands out rubbing fingers together while our pathetic government shovels out huge amounts of our country's scarce wealth.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that Finlayson's name hasn't cropped-up in this article. He's so often involved when cash is lavished on Maori,

Prior to European influenece there was no concept of private property in the minds of Maori - other than that which the tribal chiefs imposed by force. It seems to be a topic that they have failed to grasp. It seems they maintain the idea that what can be stolen or fiddled (labled as koha) is legitimate bounty. Perhaps it is time that the laws regarding property, ownership - even basic right and wrong - was taught in schools.
Auntie Podes.

Laurie said...

It is quite evident we are a racist country with part Maori people being first class and the rest of us second class and paying for all the privileges that Maori now enjoy . We should be registered with the United Nations as a racist country.

Laurie said...

Bi-culturalism continues at around $6 Billion plus per year. It is in essence two systems of government one for Maori and one for all other ethnic groups here.

Its mind blowing for people to image just what six billion dollars actually is, hence the attempt to clarify below.

A stack of $100 bills reaches 6.7 miles high = 11 kilometres

The weight of these $100 bills is approx 56 tons.

If Bi-culturalism was discontinued we could buy every year.

Three. American 100,000 ton Aircraft Carriers.

One and a quarter New World Trade Centre complexes that is near completion in New York.

Eight. 113,000 ton Luxury Cruise Liners.

Twelve. Boeing 787 Dream Liner Aircraft.

Ten. Top of the line Airbus A380-800 Aircraft.

Forty. F22a Raptor Fighter Jets.

Five. 6,000 guest roomed casinos in Las Vegas.

All costs quoted above are at 2013 prices.