Letter reveals war of words

By Don Farmer

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The depth of division within the Aratoi Regional Trust Board has emerged in a letter to the trustees by Aratoi's former accountant Fiona Reid, who resigned earlier this year.

Mrs Reid's letter is now circulating among the Aratoi community and discloses her view of the unrest at Aratoi, including clashes which sometimes resulted in shouting matches.

The letter is in response to an email board chairwoman Kristy McDonald sent to Mrs Reid and comments at some length on financial matters.

Mrs Reid writes she did not believe anyone would dispute that the board has a responsibility to understand financial information and to obtain further information "if required".

"However, the manner in which these requests have been sought have been misinformed, heavy handed and accusatory."

Mrs Reid said claims Ms McDonald made that museum director Marcus Boroughs told her to simply trust him and Mrs Reid in financial matters was taken out of context.

The letter said "a few lengthy emails" from Mr Robinson containing queries could have been answered in minutes had he "found the time to meet with me in person".

He would have been able to see the administration procedures file she had compiled over years and have seen the accounting process in place, she said.

"Then he may have gained some comfort from the accuracy of the accounts."

Referring to "events" that took place on December 22 last year, Mrs Reid said it was inside an office and that to suggest it was within hearing of the public was "an exaggeration".

Mrs Reid said she had been angry and upset, apparently over the content of an email and because she thought Mr Robinson's perusal of files when she wasn't present was "inappropriate."

"I do no agree with Ms McDonald's assertion I yelled at her.

"My reaction was a direct result of my frustration at the way in which Mr Robinson had been communicating over the previous few months," she said.

Mrs Reid said she found it "interesting" Ms McDonald deemed an "open and frank discussion within a work place" to be intimidating and bullying and that she had felt "ambushed".

"Yet when Mr Robinson shouted at me in the middle of a board meeting she rejects that as being bullying behaviour."

Mrs Reid said she believed a special board meeting on January 10 had given the board a "somewhat impaired and unbalanced account" of what had taken place on December 22.

Since the problems at Aratoi arose several people have approached the Times-Age asking for the composition of the electoral college that appoints board members.

According to the deed the following positions make up the electoral college, with the chairman always being the Mayor of Masterton.

Masterton District Council: Mayor, deputy mayor and a committee chairman. Carterton District Council: Mayor and deputy mayor. South Wairarapa District Council: Mayor and deputy mayor. Trust House Charitable Trust: Chairman and deputy chairman. Tararua Foundation: Chairman and deputy chairman. Lands Trust Masterton: Chairman and deputy chairman. Friends of Aratoi: Chairman and deputy chairman. Aratoi Foundation: Chairman, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi: chairman and deputy chairman, Rangitane Iwi: chairman and deputy chairman, and a single representative of a body deemed to be interested in art and culture in Wairarapa.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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