3 Oct 2012

Time to move on, wananga nominee says

1:28 pm on 3 October 2012

The woman at the centre of a dispute between those running one of the country's largest tertiary institutions says there is misinformation about the situation.

The council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa has refused to accept the Maori king's nomination of Susan Cullen, daughter of the wananga's founder and former chief executive, Rongo Wetere.

In the mid-2000s, she provided courses for the wananga worth tens of millions of dollars, and the Auditor-General later criticised the institution for poor management of conflicts of interest when it set up those deals.

Susan Cullen says the council doesn't understand it must comply with the organisation's constitution.

She says some may think she could be a negative influence because of her earlier work, but it is time to move on and put Te Wananga first.

However Waikato iwi member Chris Webster says the council was right to reject King Tuheitia's nomination.

She says too many people on commercial boards and on committees of district and local councils are there because they are kingitanga appointments, not because of their skills.

"We have kingtanga people who are vetting private applications for business in terms of resource consent. This is wrong, they've got no skills or qualifications to do that."