• Six investigations

• $25.5 million in ordered repayments

• One bankruptcy

• Two Serious Fraud Office invetigations


Less than two years after an NZQA review praised it for achieving "excellent educational outcomes" and "consistently exceeding expectations", a Rotorua-based performing arts college has been stripped of its registration and ordered to repay $2.6 million in taxpayer funding it wasn't entitled to.

Manaakitanga Aotearoa Charitable Trust (MACT) - a private training establishment that offers courses in Maori performing arts - delivered less than half of the teaching hours for which it was funded in 2013/14 and significantly over-reported student achievement, investigations by forensic accountants Deloitte and NZQA found.

The findings bring the total of taxpayer funding misappropriated by six tertiary education providers - the locations of which stretch from Southland to Rotorua and Taranaki to Whakatane - to more than $25 million since the Herald revealed an investigation into funding irregularities was underway at Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi in October 2014.

MACT's executive director Donna Grant, the daughter of the late Sir Howard Morrison, is the subject of a Serious Fraud Office investigation following a probe into the over-funding of courses at Awanuiarangi, where she was formerly employed as Head of Performing Arts.

An investigation into Awanuiarangi found players and staff members of the New Zealand Warriors rugby league club had completed an 18-week tourism course in just one day. At the time Mrs Grant was a member of the club's board.

Certificates from the Hei Manaaki course were also granted to volunteers who helped out at the 2013 Te Matanini national haka championships in Rotorua - many of whom did not even know they had been enrolled.

Awanuiarangi repaid $5.9 million in TEC funding.

Mrs Grant did not immediately respond to a Herald request for an interview left on her mobile telephone.

The Serious Fraud Office confirmed Monday its investigation into Mrs Grant, who resigned from the wananga, was ongoing.

The Deloitte and NZQA investigations into MACT were launched in October 2014 following the earlier investigation of Awanuiarangi, a statement published on the Tertiary Education Commission website says.

The dual investigations found issues relating to the under delivery of teaching hours and student attendance and pass rates.

Deloitte estimated MACT delivered 40 per cent of the 800 funded hours for its National Certificate in Maori Performing Arts and 43 per cent of the 800 funded hours National Diploma in Maori Performing Arts during 2013/14.

The courses were funded for 20 teaching hours each week over 40 weeks. However wero (class groups) based off campus often met as little as once a week.

NZQA found that MACT had reported unit standards for fewer than 15 per cent of its 2013 students but had reported to TEC that 100 per cent of the students had completed their qualifications.

Record keeping improved in 2014 when tutors began keeping attendance records, however some of the records appeared to have been fabricated. "In some instances several months' of attendance records appear from visual inspection to have been created and signed by students only just prior to NZQA's visit, raising questions about their accuracy and authenticity," NZQA's report states.

In another case, students signed a register claiming to have attended classes during scheduled recesses, and the record was "complete to a degree that leads to doubt its authenticity".

In other attendance records that appeared "more authentic", some students missed the majority of classes, two students did not attend any classes at all, while others ceased attending due to being overseas.

"MACT's management, administration, delivery and assessment practices in recent years have seriously undermined NZQA's confidence in the integrity of the national qualifications that MACT has awarded," NZQA's March 2015 monitoring report, which was made public Friday, states.

The report is in sharp contrast to the findings of NZQA's External and Evaluation Review of MACT published on August 21, 2013.

NZQA staff spent two days at MACT and reported: "NZQA is highly confident in the educational performance of Manaakitangi Aotearoa Charitible Trust."

Inspectors were also "highly confident" in MACT's self-assessment capability, rating it "excellent". MACT's governance and management in supporting educational achievement was rated excellent, as was the effectiveness of its teaching.

Just 14 months later NZQA and Deloitte began investigations that would tell a very different story.


October 2014

The Whakatane-based wananga agrees to repay $5.9 million in taxpayer funding after an investigation finds NZ Warriors players and staff gained qualifications after doing one day of an 18-week tourism course, while volunteers at a national kapa haka festival also received certificate. Donna Grant, Awanuiarangi's director of performing arts, resigns from the wananga and is referred to the Serious Fraud Office.


November 2014

Six staff members resign as the Western Institute of Technology (WITT) in Taranaki repays TEC more than $3.5 million following an investigation into its National Certificate in Maori Performing Arts courses. A probe conducted by forensic accounting firm Deloitte found students were not properly enrolled, attendance records were poorly kept and qualifications granted without assessments taking place.


September 2015

Masterton's Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre agrees to repay $7,549,000 it received over a six-year period during which it overcharged the taxpayer. A second breach involved the enrolling of 67 staff in an entry-level programme when little or no teaching took place. Taratahi's former chief executive, Dr Donovan Wearing, died suddenly in January - three months after the TEC confirmed it was undertaking a 'targeted review' of the organisation. A second SFO investigation is launched.


October 2015

Agricultural training provider Agribusiness Training Ltd collapses after being ordered to pay back $6 million in taxpayer funding for under-delivering contracted teaching hours. Deloitte found five Agribusiness programmes delivered fewer teaching hours than its NZQA programme approvals specified.


November 2015

Rotorua private training establishment Manaakitanga Aotearoa Charitable Trust is stripped of its NZQA registration and ordered to repay $2.6 million in TEC funding. Operated by Donna Grant, the Maori performing arts college is subjected to reviews by Deloitte and NZQA, which find it under-delivered teaching hours, failed to record student attendances and over-reported the number of students successfully completing their studies.