Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Kohanga reo trust will resist Govt 'intrusion'

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The troubled Te Kohanga Reo National Trust will resist Government "intrusion'' in its management and has set up a working party to consult the country's Kohanga Reo movement over major operational changes.

The message comes from a weekend hui hosted by King Tuheitia in Ngaruawahia where 1200 representatives from 496 Kohanga Reo unanimously agreed to three resolutions.

They include the eight month consultation by the newly formed working party, that the "Crown should not interfere in the affairs of Kohanga Reo'', and that the Kohanga Reo's successful Waitangi Tribunal claim against the Crown for underfunding be progressed.

The Government in a confidential letter has effectively set an April 30 deadline for the trust to get its plans in order or risk losing its role in dispensing about $80 million in funding to the country's Kohanga Reo - Maori language preschools.

It follows allegations of mis-spending of public money by the trust's wholly owned subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga which have now been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

But at a press conference today after the hui Tukoroirangi Morgan, who has now been removed from the trust by the King, said they had sent a clear message to the Government that it should not interfere.

When asked if the trust would ignore the April 30 deadline he said it would seek an audience with appropriate ministers of parliament.

During the hui four possible models were put forward for change but the hui agreed more time was needed.

The seven-person working party, including Dr Tania Simpson, Dr Kathie Irwin and Sir Toby Curtis, would report back to the trust in December, when another hui would be held at Turangawaewae Marae.

- NZ Herald

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