Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Iwi Chairs Forum denies 'slush fund' accusations

Sonny Tau. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Sonny Tau. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Leading Maori organisation The Iwi Chairs Forum has denied Winston Peters' claim it received $3 million to prepare an application to become a "commissioning agency" responsible for allocating millions of dollars in Whanau Ora funding.

But the forum's Sonny Tau has confirmed the forum has applied for the role for both the North and South Islands.

Mr Peters made the claim about funding yesterday, also saying the National Maori Health Council had received $500,000 to assist an application for further Whanau Ora money.

He said taxpayers' money was being used as "a slush fund to finance projects that help selected groups get their hands on even more money".

Te Puni Kokiri is currently 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.

Mr Peters said the commissioning model was "designed to 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".

But Mr Tau yesterday told the Herald the forum had not received any money to prepare its bid to become a commissioning agent.

Emails produced by Mr Peters showed Mr Tau had some discussion with Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia about funding the forum's application but yesterday she showed media her response, making it clear such funding was unavailable.

Mrs Turia also said the commissioning agencies would remain subject to oversight by Te Puni Kokiri.

- NZ Herald

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