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Audrey Young

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

National hui to discuss future of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust

Hekia Parata
Hekia Parata

King Tuheitia will host a national hui at Turangawaewae next month to discuss the future of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust and changes to the way it operates.

The board itself today said it will fast-track work it has started on the direction and organisation needed to advance kohanga reo.

"This will include the makeup and membership of the board,'' the board's co-chairs, Dr Timoti Karetu and Tina Olsen-Ratana said in a statement issued today.

It is the first formal statement the board has made since the release of the Ernst and Young report last week into reports of mis-spending by the trust's subsidiary company, Te Pataka Ohanga (TPO).

Ernst and Young did not investigate TPO spending, deeming its expenditure to be the use of private money, not public money.

Education Minister Hekia Parata referred TPO to the Serious Fraud Office last week and the board's statement said it and TPO would co-operate fully with the SFO as well as the investigation into its TPO's charitable status being conducted by the Department of Internal Affairs.

After the claims of mis-spending were first aired in October on Maori Television, the board also asked its auditors, KPMG, to instigate a controls review of TPO, which is still ongoing.

The board met in Auckland on Saturday. King Tuheitia used to be on the board but he has asked Tukuroirangi Morgan to take his place on it.

Ms Parata said she welcomed that statement today "acknowledging that changes are needed in their organisation, including the nature of Trust membership and the need to clean up the affairs of their subsidiary, Te Pataka Ohanga.''

"The Government's expectations in relation to on-going engagement with the Trust are very clear. We expect to see that the Trust has representative, accountable and transparent governance and management arrangements.''

She said her interest was in the 9000 children currently in kohanga reo and in ensuring they continued to have access to quality early learning.

- NZ Herald

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