A senior Wanganui member of Kohanga Reo says the movement is facing a crisis over last week's credit card scandal revelations.

The Maori Television programme Native Affairs last week broadcast a story alleging Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board member Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and her daughter-in-law Lynda used taxpayer-funded credit cards to buy luxury items. The board is now being independently audited after the ministers of education and Maori affairs raised their concerns.

Ruka Broughton, the Wanganui-based Aotea district manager of Te Kohanga Reo, said the words "surprised, shocked, amazed" came to his mind when he learned of the allegations.

"These individuals have performed in a negative way. We do not support any of that. Utilising a resource provided by the Crown from taxpayer funds is not supported by us in any way.


"We've had internal discussions and each Kohanga Reo has been asked for their opinion - a lot have said they are disappointed. They don't receive as much money as they would like to run their operations, so when they hear of something like this happening by those higher up they are not impressed," Mr Broughton said.

He supported the independent audit as he felt if the trust was subjected solely to an internal investigation the movement could be seen to be analysing itself.

"Having the minister come in to look at what's going on is good. We're pleased to see the Crown getting involved, as the trust is run with public money. It's unfortunate to hear of the prime minister becoming involved, but that also gives confidence that the higher echelons of government are focused on fixing this problem.

"This audit and this inquiry are what's needed to lift the movement from the state it's in to performing better and it needs to be transparent so the faith of the Maori people, and of the public, is upheld."

Mr Broughton said the credit card scandal was a "sideshow" the Kohanga movement didn't need as it distracted from its key focus of fostering Te Reo and increasing attendance numbers.

He said the movement was keen to focus on the positives and he was confident "something productive" would come out of the scandal, but he was unequivocal in condemning the alleged actions.

"The leadership should not be utilising public monies in this way."