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Another rort of public funds?


In two articles and an editorial the Dominion Post has highlighted the need for proper accountability over the expenditure of public money.

Phil Kitchin and Kay Blundell detailed concerns over the expenditures made by a Kapiti based Maori health provider. Then they revealed more the next day

Yet they reported the police scoping report observed:-

the police report said the Capital & Coast Maori Health Development accountability manager, Jim Wiki, said a complaint would not be made because he thought the failings were due to naivety and lack of ability.

Mr Wiki said there was a “possibility” the money would be repaid so “the board would not be forthcoming with any complaint to police”.

In a report obtained by The Dominion Post, Capital & Coast’s director of Maori health, Riki Nia Nia, said the runanga had failed to meet its contracted obligations. A 2009 audit found “a number of financial anomalies including transfers and advances from Hora Te Pai accounts”.

Included in the $590,000 was $200,000 invested as a term deposit, a $140,000 advance to the runanga, an advance of $176,362 to the failed iwi business that tried to start a cafe and art gallery and a $74,000 advance to Te Ati Awa Ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust.

The attitude displayed by Mr Wiki is concerning. One wonders whether the same attitude would be taken if the organization involved was not a Maori one.

In the editorial the Dominion Post said:-

Regardless of the final outcome of the police inquiries, that is no way to manage $590,000 of taxpayers’ money. It is public money, and the handling of it should be transparent, with the details of where it is or what it has been spent on readily available.

There should be no need to wait, as one of those involved put it, until an accountant has “all the right information in the right boxes”.

Absolutely correct. Yet the DHB seems to have been remarkably tolerant of shortcomings. Perhaps, that is why the DHB has such a budget blowout?

What is alleged to have happened to some of the money causes shudders. It beggars belief why anyone would have thought that money meant to promote health should have been used to start up a cafe and art gallery.

An unkind person might take a very uncharitable view of such actions. Indeed, an unkind person might want to know why the police were not taking action. The editorial went on:-

Equally perplexing is the attitude of CCDHB Maori health development accountability manager Jim Wiki, who, according to the police report, says the board will not be making a complaint because he believes the failings were due to naivety and a lack of ability.

That is no sort of accountability. It is the financial equivalent of telling a patient who has had a pair of forceps left in him that if the surgeon has a lack of ability it is an outcome that should be accepted, and that worries are groundless because the forceps can be retrieved.

Mr Wiki’s job is to ensure taxpayers get value for the money the CCDHB is spending, and patients get the services that money was meant to buy, not to provide excuses for the alleged failures of others.

Just what sort of governance and oversight does the DHB have in place?

Why does Mr Wiki seek to excuse the failure?

His title suggests that he is responsible for ensuring monies are properly expended and contracts monitored, so how did these apparent lapses occur?

Interestingly, UK MP Edward Leigh, just retired Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, identified a number of key points concerning the expenditure of public money. Three of these appear particualrly relevant in this instance, namely:-

  • Fraud and error must be tackled head on. Taxpayers lose faith in government when they see their hard earned cash seeping from the system.
  • Government must learn from experience. Government needs to learn from its failures and its successes, so that mistakes in one part are not repeated elsewhere.
  • Public scrutiny adds value. It must be taken seriously by senior civil servants.

Time and again we see these instances, Tekau Plus, for example.

This is especially concerning with the impending launch of Whanau Ora.

One Comment
  1. Hoani permalink
    10/04/2010 18:27

    And this lot got away scott free, to the astonishment of people in Southland.

    Maria Pera continues to represent her marae, Awarua (Bluff) at the Ngai Tahu Council table as if nothing had happened.


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