Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Kohanga Reo audit to ensure public funds weren't misused

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi
Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi

Education Minister Hekia Parata says an independent audit of allegations of the misuse of funding at a subsidiary of Te Kohanga Reo Trust is charged with ensuring no public funds had been misused, and checking the financial controls in place.

Ms Parata yesterday announced that Ernst and Young had been contracted for an audit of the Kohanga Reo Trust, after allegations of misuse of credit cards and unreceipted koha.

She expected Ernst and Young to report back by mid-December. "We want it to be comprehensive and thorough, and as swift as possible.''

She said she expected the audit to provide a clear view of what was happening, and whether or not changes were needed.

"It's important to remember that these allegations relate to one staff member in one part of the Trust. And that the 470 kohanga reo across the country have not committed any impropriety that we have seen.

"When we heard he allegations last week, we acted swiftly and brought the representatives of the Trust board in. We talked for a long time about what was necessary and, as a result of that, with the full cooperation of the board, I have commissioned an independent inquiry.''

Lynda Tawhiwhirangi, the general manager of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga has been suspended while allegations she misused the credit card are investigated, and all staff credit cards have been removed.

Asked whether other board members should also be stood down for signing off on the credit card purchases, Ms Parata said the board had taken action over the allegations and had assured her it was looking into the matters fully.

"Our review makes it clear that financial controls are one of the key areas we are going to look at.''

She said the Ministry of Education had regularly audited funding given to the Kohanga Reo Trust, ``and we have not found any irregularities in that.''

- NZ Herald

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