Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Parata attacks kohanga reo board

Hekia Parata under fire during question time yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hekia Parata under fire during question time yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday launched an attack on Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, accusing its board of failing to act responsibly, of not being democratic enough, losing public confidence and of putting its Maori language work at risk.

Leading Maori educationist Sir Toby Curtis and Pem Bird congratulated her for "fearless action" in referring a subsidiary company of the "long-troubled" trust to the Serious Fraud Office.

Ms Parata's broadsides against the trust follow her decision on Tuesday to refer specific allegations against the trusts' subsidiary company, Te Pataka Ohanga, to the SFO.

She said yesterday she received an email on Monday night from one of the trust's board members, whom she would not name, making allegations. Ms Parata said she had expected the trust would investigate allegations of misspending and would make public statements about it on Wednesday.

"I have done my part, the trust has not done its part. As a result I have referred it to the Serious Fraud Office."

She had no statutory powers to sack any member of the trust board which was set up under its own trust deed.

"I have made it clear to them I think their arrangements are not fit for purpose for the 21st century and I have suggested they get more democratic and that unless and until they do, I won't be resuming Treaty of Waitangi negotiations with them that I also suspended as soon as I learned of these allegations."

Board spokesman Derek Fox said the board was aware of the allegations in the email and "they are quite incorrect".

- NZ Herald

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