6 May 2019

Donors upset at slow pace of funds distribution

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 6 May 2019

There are increasing calls by those who donated money to the mosque shooting victims for more of it to be handed out. 

Victim Support raised $10.5 million and was also in control of almost $3m raised by seven predominantly Muslim groups, but so far only $3m has been distributed.

RNZ has been contacted by donors upset their money was sitting in a bank account rather than in the pockets of the victims, including by Doug Barry-Martin from Nelson.

"It's not transparent enough. It appears to be like a Christchurch earthquake thing where it's getting lost in bureaucracy and excuses. When you hear that people are struggling and they're having to borrow money and all this, it's not a good look is it."

Victim Support has so far handed out two lots of emergency funding totaling $3m.

Those injured received two payments - one of $5000, another of $8000 - while families who lost a loved one were given two payments of $15,000. 

Another donor, Wellingtonian Liz Takamore, said Victim Support was still sitting on far too much money.

"And then in the same breath you read about these ones that have lost loved ones that are finding it difficult to meet their mortgage payments. Why? There are some who have lost family members who haven't got the finances to buy food."

Ms Takamore said after the feeling of pride she felt in her fellow New Zealanders after hearing how much money had been raised, to hear more than seven weeks later that less than a third of it had been handed out left a sour taste in her mouth.

"With the money raised you think to yourself 'Well, that's awesome, at least they don't have to worry about anything immediately. No, it won't bring back their families, but it will help out in some way', that's how it was. And then finding out that they hadn't distributed money to where it should have gone, wasn't very nice." 

Fellow Wellingtonian and donor Tamara Duran said Victim Support needed to fulfill its promise to the victims.

"All of the words that were coming were 'We are going to look after these folks, we've got wrap-around support, we are with you for the long term, we are all here for you' and that hasn't happened."

People falling through the cracks and not being picked up by the likes of ACC was what concerned her the most, she said.

"There are people who may not have lost someone directly, or they did lose somebody directly and the money hasn't carried them through or there's people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

Victim Support said it was too busy helping the mosque shooting victims to be interviewed.

In a statement it said it was preparing to hand out a third tranche of funding but did not say when that would be available, or how much it would involve.