As you might have heard, last night’s Native Affairs programme on Maori TV exposed what looks like a fairly egregious example of folks in what is essentially a taxpayer-funded charity, the Kohanga Reo National Trust, treating taxpayers’ money like their own—spending it on trips, fuel and wedding dresses.
I’m not going to focus on the details of what Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and her daughter-in-law Lynda Tawhiwhirangi, the general manager of the trust's charity-status subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga, were supposed to have done. Others can do that.
What I want to applaud was how Maori TV went for the jugular on the troughers. A vigorous contrast with the case a few years ago when a director of Maori TV’s ill-starred predecessor, Aotearoa Television, decided he “had the mana” to spend taxpayers’ money on suits, shirts and underpants. Sixty dollar underpants! A small if trivial example of how the board itself “had the mana” to pay themselves an awful lot for very little.
Back then, instead of attacking him, as they should have, other Maori media defended that director, one Tuku Morgan—until recently up to his underpants in the Tainui trough, and with his snout now in one supplied by the long-suffering Auckland ratepayer.
So it’s encouraging now to see Maori TV not only exposing the rorts, but being the ones to investigate and broadcast the scoop—illustrating once again how being given the “mana” to spend other people’s money at will, affects some people in a way it shouldn’t.
Think about it as a warm-up for what’s going to happen when Whanau Ora is really rolled out.