23 May 2014

Principal defends spending on gifts

8:53 pm on 23 May 2014

The principal of a Maori language school in Hamilton says the board's decision to spend $5000 buying staff Christmas gifts from a company she part-owns was completely within the rules.

The Office of the Auditor-General released a report on Thursday on the audits of schools' 2012 accounts. It criticised some spending, including at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Whakawatea, describing it as wasteful and lacking probity by the kura's board.

But principal Susanne Simmons-Kopa said they have been buying staff presents for years to recognise their extra work. She said the board has been completely transparent about the decision, which was cleared by its accountant.

Ms Simmons-Kopa said they have also included people who prepare their accounts, as well as the ministry, and as far as they are concerned they have not broken any rules.

She told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday she was not part of the decision to buy gift vouchers from a health and beauty business in which she has a half interest. The amount spent on each staff member was about $200.

Ms Simmons-Kopa said other schools would spend more than $5000 on staff morning teas. She believes the criticism by the Office of the Auditor-General is unfair and intends to complain.