Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust seeks legal advice over Whare Aroha grant

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Work on Whare Aroha CARE's new development at Ngongotaha. Photo/File
Work on Whare Aroha CARE's new development at Ngongotaha. Photo/File

A Rotorua trust which gave Whare Aroha CARE $750,000 for its dementia village development in Ngongotaha has confirmed it has sought legal advice following the change in ownership - and may seek the return of its money.

Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust confirmed today it had taken legal advice following the decision by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group to take over the project and fund the rest of the development.

Pukeroa Oruawhata Group will take ownership of the land and buildings as part of the deal.

Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust chairman Grahame Hall said in a statement the trust had officially requested further information - and potentially the return of its grant - from the Rotorua Continuing Care Trust, which originally embarked on the project.

"We are extremely mindful of the need to act responsibly as guardians of community money and to deliver a financial legacy for the benefit of Rotorua now and in the future."

Mr Hall said it was entirely appropriate for the trust to seek further information about the project, its sale to Pukeroa Oruawhata and the involvement of its grant given the development's change in ownership.

Mr Hall said the trust's usual due diligence procedures were followed after receiving an application for funding from the Rotorua Continuing Care Trust.

"Based on the information provided by [the Rotorua Continuing Care Trust] - who indicated at the time that they had confirmed funding for the rest of the development - the Rotorua Trust made the decision to make a grant for the Whare Aroha project.

"Some months ago, it became clear that the remainder of the funding for the project had not been confirmed, which raised immediate concerns for the Rotorua Trust relating to the use of its $750,000 grant."

He said once they discovered the project was to be sold to another organisation, understandably they had serious questions and concerns about the future of the project, and the trust's funding in that.

"As such, we determined to take a firm response to this latest development."

Mr Hall said they remained hugely supportive of the Whare Aroha development and what it was seeking to achieve for the community but needed to protect the use of the trust's funds for the long-term benefit of Rotorua's people.

He said the trust was due to meet with the Rotorua Continuing Care Trust next week and was unable to provide any further comment.

Rotorua Continuing Care Trust chairman Ron Finn previously confirmed both parties were in talks regarding the new arrangement.

Yesterday he said Whare Aroha CARE's charitable trust status was not impacted by Pukeroa Oruawhata's involvement and since the organisation's inception Whare Aroha CARE had leased land and buildings from Pukeroa Oruawhata.

"Funding allows Whare Aroha CARE to turn bricks and mortar into a village which people with dementia will recognise and find comfort and security in its familiar environment."

About the development
Located on a 1.3ha site on Taui St
Based on the acclaimed De Hogeweyk model
Due to open early next year
Now to be owned and developed by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group

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