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

Parata must step down, says Labour

Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader David Cunliffe yesterday welcomed a move by the Kohanga Reo National Trust to revamp its governance structure as a step towards regaining public confidence.

But he said it was no substitute "for credible responses to critical questions that should have been answered months ago".

He pointed the finger of blame at Education Minister Hekia Parata for not insisting on a full review of the trust's subsidiary, Te Pataka Ohanga, when allegations of mis-spending came to light last year and called on her to resign.

Ms Parata said she welcomed the trust's acknowledgement it needed to change its organisation and clean up the affairs of Te Pataka Ohanga.

Video: Parata hiding info - Cunliffe


She said the Government's expectations in relation to on-going engagement with the trust - which receives $92 million a year - were clear.

"We expect to see that the trust has representative, accountable and transparent governance and management arrangements."

The Kohanga Reo National Trust said yesterday it would fast-track changes to the organisation including board membership after it has faced widespread criticism over its lack of accountability.

Mr Cunliffe said the board's statement still left serious allegations of misuse of public money unanswered by Ms Parata.

"No amount of bluster, bullying and passing the buck by the minister over the alleged mis-spending gets her off the hook. Only her departure from this crucial portfolio will give Kiwis some hope that their children's education and taxpayers' hard-earned money are in safe hands."

The board received $92 million from the Government in 2012 and passed on $79 million to 465 kohanga reo providing education in Maori to 9000 pre-schoolers.

- NZ Herald

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