By STACEY BODGER
ROTORUA - The disappearance of furnishings from one-term MP Alamein Kopu's Rotorua electorate office is not the first time property belonging to the Parliamentary Service has gone missing while in her care.
The Herald revealed yesterday that police are investigating a complaint by Members' Services, a division of the Parliamentary Service, that furnishings allocated to Mrs Kopu during her parliamentary term have vanished.
It emerged yesterday that the furnishings, including a desk, chair, filing cabinet and rubbish bin, are missing from her electorate office in Haupapa St, not her former Beehive office.
Mrs Kopu bought a computer and printer from the Parliamentary Service in December because the computer held personal files.
The former Alliance MP, who quit the party to support the National-led Government in 1996, became leader of her own party, Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata, last May. She lost her seat at the election and vacated the electorate office in early December. It was then that the Parliamentary Service discovered that the items were missing.
Mrs Kopu's former electorate secretary, Wanda Kiel-Rapana, said yesterday that a lounge suite belonging to the Parliamentary Service disappeared in the middle of last year. It vanished from the hall where Mrs Kopu stored her office furnishings while she looked for an office after shifting from Opotiki. When she reported the incident to Mrs Kopu, "she just sort of giggled - I don't know if she reported it."
Mrs Kiel-Rapana was dismissed by Mrs Kopu in July but believed the remaining furniture was shifted to Haupapa St.
The Parliamentary Service general manager, John O'Sullivan, is aware of the matter but said "that is not the issue police are now investigating - these items are a separate incident."
Mrs Kopu refused to speak to the Herald from her Rotorua home yesterday, saying, "I know the truth but I will only tell it to Maori media."
However, she spoke briefly to the Herald's Maori affairs reporter while travelling to Opotiki. Mrs Kopu said she told the Parliamentary Service before the election that furniture was missing and had sent it an itemised list of remaining property.
She heard nothing more about the matter and was shocked to hear about the police investigation.
Mr O'Sullivan said he had tried repeatedly to contact Mrs Kopu and urged her to call him.
Mrs Kopu said police were welcome to search her house and that insinuations she had stolen the items proved that "apartheid is rife" in NZ.
By STACEY BODGER