Hekia Parata needs to resign, and Ernst & Young need to repay the $90,000 they received for performing their “review” of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. That’s because it has now been revealed by the NZ Herald that the terms of reference for the review explicitly included following any public money that the Trust may have provided to Te Pataka Ohanga (TPO), the wholly Trust-owned commercial subsidiary company of the Trust.
Grant Taylor, the Ernst & Young partner who conducted the review, stated that “he would have looked at TPO if the terms of reference had made that clear”.
However, to my mind, the terms of reference could not have been clearer. The vital provision in the terms of reference is Provision No. 6, which states that an objective of the review is to:
“establish what, if any, public funding provided to Kohanga Reo National Trust amy have been provided to Te Pataka Ohanga”.
And when the Ministry of Education’s deputy secretary, Andrew Hampton, who advised on the terms of reference, was asked about whether the review was to cover funds paid from the Ministry to the Trust to TOP, he said, “that was was the purpose of the provision … It was a classic ‘follow-the-money'”.
So what did Ernst & Young do, in response to Provision No. 6? They noted that the Ministry provided money to the Trust, and that the Trust then distributed those funds to individual Kohanga Reo, who then paid those funds back to TPO for compulsory services, such as insurance and vehicle hire. And that’s about where they got to. Somehow, the direct ‘follow-the-money’ line from the Ministry to the Trust to the individual Kohanga Reo to TPO was not deemed able to be followed, because it apparently wasn’t clear that TPO should be examined. They have completely failed to undertake the report in accordance with an extremely clear and extremely important provision of the terms of reference, and they should therefore be shamefacedly refunding the cost of report.
And Hekia Parata? She helped set the terms of reference, along with Pita Sharples and the Trust, back in October 2013, just after Maori TV’s Native Affairs broke the initial claims of misspending. She knew that a primary purpose of the report was to follow the money to TPO and ensure that that any public funds that made it to TPO were accounted for. For her to have stood before the media at her late-night press conference and stated with a straight face that all was well because Ernst & Young had said so is, at best, flaming incompetence, and at worst, utter dishonesty.
It’s obvious that Ms Parata won’t offer her resignation, no matter how low her performance may sink. Surely John Key must see that the time has come to cut her loose.