19 Mar 2014

Kohanga trust in clear on funds misuse

9:43 am on 19 March 2014

The Education Minister says an independent review of public funding to Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board has found there was no misuse of public money by the trust.

Hekia Parata.

Hekia Parata. Photo: RNZ

However, Hekia Parata says there needs to be improvements made on credit card returns and koha payments.

The Ernst & Young investigation followed allegations the trust's commercial arm, Te Pataka Ohanga, misused business credit cards to pay for dresses, fuel and accommodation.

The review did not look into the financial dealings of the commercial arm, as Ms Parata says it is not publicly funded.

"The issues that sparked this report for me and Dr Sharples, as government ministers, were whether or not taxpayers' funds were being used inappropriately. This report says they were not.

"What Ernst Young found was that for an organisation of its size and complexity that its financial controls were appropriate but in terms of credit card control they weren't being monitored as closely as possible and so the trust cancelled all six of the credit cards available to the trust."

Ms Parata told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Wednesday the Charities Commission was examining the financial dealings of the trust's commercial arm.

She also said Te Pataka Ohanga was being disciplined by the national trust although she did not say how.

"I understand that the Charities Commission is investigating Te Pataka Ohanga and that the trust board themselves have taken steps to discipline their commercial arm," Ms Parata said, "and I have advised them that they need to be available to answer questions in respect of their wholly owned commercial entity,

"They've confirmed to my office that they would be available to do that today."