I'm so gutted by this Plunket story. Mainly because, like lots of new mums, I used and loved Plunket when I had my babies.

Measurements of milestones, tips, connecting you to other new mums in and around your community. But the service now finds itself in a bit of a pickle.

It's been revealed that 11 senior managers last year were paid salaries of more than $180,000 - and almost $2 million was paid out to consultants.

The organisation's consultancy payments were up by $600,000 from the previous year.
All of that before we get to the community of Pirongia, which is at war with Plunket, saying the $25,000 they raised to build a new playground has gone missing. Oh dear. Not a good look. And charities can ill–afford bad publicity.

Advertisement

What charities need is donations, support, and community backing - not scandals. Just ask Oxfam.

The worst criticism came from a mum who said that Plunket had "morphed into a marketing company trading off a 100-year-old brand that New Zealanders know and love". She called it "appalling". When your support base starts calling you appalling, you have a problem. But it's not just the mums.

Hard-working volunteers aren't happy either. They've been asking for their money. And Pirongia wants its playground. There's talk of getting lawyers involved.

Plunket's not accepting the criticism though, and here's the rub. Is Plunket a victim of trying to modernise itself? A 100-year-old institution trying to stay current, adding layers of bureaucracy, and zhooshing itself up with consultants - is this best practice in terms of branding?

Do we expect flashy brochures and fancy booklets from Plunket? No.
Do we want informed dedicated nurses? Yes. That's the heart of it, the people at the coal face, not the marketing and the external consultants. In defending the moves, I heard Plunket's CEO saying they brought in project managers. Project managers?

Anyone who's hired one of those know that you're paying someone to oversee stuff that everyone else was getting on with anyway. It's Plunket, not an overhaul of a glitzy department store.

It's a grass roots Kiwi charity serving families, so has it lost its way?

Plunket says it won't apologise for trying to bring in the best people. But they should apologise - to the disgruntled nurses, to Pirongia, and the parents who've lost faith.

When people give you their hard-earned cash to support you, they expect you to be beyond reproach. Plunket's total income last year was $85m - three-quarters of which was taxpayer-funded. They need the taxpayer.

They also need to maintain a good reputation, keep communities on board, and spend less on consultants and project managers. I can't help but think Plunket have cocked this up.