29 Jun 2012

Peters claims Govt knew of refuge problems

6:21 am on 29 June 2012

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters claims the Prime Minister was alerted to serious financial irregularities at a Maori Women's Refuge in February.

Associate Minister for Social Development Tariana Turia, is summoning officials to explain why she first heard of the problems at the Palmerston North-based refuge from Mr Peters in Parliament on Wednesday.

An audit of the Te Roopu Whakaruruhau o Nga Wahine shows a loss of $109,000 for the year ended June 2011 as well as a number of unauthorised transactions.

The audit, carried out last year, found the refuge had a payroll that was greater than its annual income and identified unauthorised transactions such as the payment of personal costs and staff bonuses.

Mr Peters told Morning Report the Prime Minster was sent an email on 10 February and he and others would have known what was going on.

He says the situation has been a circus, paid for with tax payers money, and he is continuing to question why nothing has been done about it.

Mrs Turia says that when the Maori Women's Refuge phoned her for help earlier this year she was led to believe it was not for anything as serious as the issues raised in the audit report.

But she says the refuge, as well as her officials, have clearly known since last year there were major concerns.

Mrs Turia says she will summon officials to the Beehive to explain why she has been kept in the dark.