12 Jun 2019

Police complaint made over missing marae funds

From Checkpoint, 5:39 pm on 12 June 2019

A former New Zealander of the Year says he's made a complaint to police over missing funds at an Auckland marae.

Te Unga Waka Marae Trust was deregistered by Charities Services for failing to file financial returns in June last year, and has been plagued by leadership infighting ever since.

Doctor and public health advocate Lance O'Sullivan, who was named NZer of the year in 2014, is part of a group who claim to have replaced the former board in recent weeks and said they had discovered problems with the books.

"There's thousands of dollars that are unaccounted for, there's lost income, incomplete financial records, which would concern any new governance coming," he said.

Mr O'Sullivan was at the marae today to supervise the locks being changed, after the former board refused to step down from their roles.

"We can take control of the bank accounts, which is what we've done, and now take control of the facilities, which we're doing today, because we believe they need to be operated in a better fashion," he said.

That change of leadership is contested by Annette Hakaraia, who has been chair of the marae for the past seven years.

"I've been with Waka for seven years as chairperson and I love the place.

"I was ready to leave this year - well, actually last year - and because of all of this happening I will not walk away, and whatever you see on TV with misappropriation of funds, that's not me."

Mr O'Sullivan said police had started investigating the trust's funding. Police, however, would not confirm whether they were investigating for privacy reasons.