Wintec is launching an independent peer review of a 2015 investigation into a complaint and allegations relating to its chief executive.

The review comes after Wintec Council chairman Barry Harris told the Herald earlier this month that investigations into a complaint about chief executive Mark Flowers was "investigated independently but not upheld".

"The conclusion of that investigation was that the allegations were unsubstantiated, that they did not stand up to scrutiny, and were based on speculation, not evidence," Harris had said then.

In a statement today, Harris said Wintec Council retained full confidence in Flowers and his staff, but recognised the effect the current commentary had on public confidence around Wintec's operations.


"We have proactively instigated these actions, which will take place early next year, to give assurance that Wintec continues to be a responsible, public organisation," he said.

"We strongly believe we have acted appropriately on the matters to date but for completeness and openness we want these independently looked into."

Harris said as well as investigating the complaint relating to Flowers, the Council would extend Audit New Zealand's programmed annual audit of Wintec.

The extension would include assessment into matters raised around expenditure and restructuring costs.

The Tertiary Education Commission had been working closely with Harris over recent weeks, acting chief executive Brendan Kelly said.

On Harris' request the commission was assisting in appointing an independent specialist to undertake the peer review. However, the TEC would not be funding this activity.

"The TEC will continue to work closely with Mr Harris as the peer review is completed and we've asked him to keep the TEC updated on relevant information and the final outcome," Kelly said.

Former Wintec dean Merran Davis said she was pleased to hear some action was being taken to review the situation.


"I will certainly co-operate with any fresh inquiry or review that is undertaken."

Earlier this month it came out that Wintec had shelled out $4 million to 221 people in redundancies and settlements over 11 years.

The significant cost to taxpayers went towards settling 221 packages, including 55 confidential settlements and 166 redundancies.

The Waikato-based institute has previously refused to release the breakdown of the $4.036m settlements but it works out to an average of $18,200 per person between 2005 and September 2016.

The troubled Waikato tertiary education institute also came under scrutiny earlier this year when the Herald revealed it had spent almost $175,000 fighting a media organisation publishing stories about it and its staff, including its chief executive.

The large expenditure, provided to the Herald under the Official Information Act, also made up almost a third of Wintec's entire legal spending of $590,646 during 2016 and September 2017.

It hired law firms Bell Gully and Norris Ward McKinnon to prevent Fairfax running stories about it.

Harris was initially was unapologetic about the spending which he said related to a media organisation's claims involving inaccurate speculation.

It also helped deflect defamatory allegations and statements from disaffected third parties about Wintec and its staff with no evidence supplied, he said at the time.

In the past 10 years Wintec has spent $342,350 on legal advice relating to policy, audit, compliance and regulation and more than half of that in the last two years was on media requests from Fairfax, according an OIA response.