With exceptional timing, the Waikato Times finally publishes an article of some substance:
Secret report reveals $3m
Tainui lawyer bill
by Karla Akuhata
Tainui’s executive committee spent more than $3 million on lawyers during the last three years, according to a confidential auditors’ report.
The tribe’s parliament will meet tomorrow to elect a new executive committee, and the report put together by financial experts KPMG is likely to be on the minds of those voting.
The report was sent out last month to all 68 marae affiliated to the Tainui organisation, and leaked to the Waikato Times, but executive chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan is adamant the report contains “a number of discrepancies, misinformation and a lack of information”.
Mr Morgan said staff from Tainui Group Holdings’ financial team, which provides advice to the tribe, had been given a copy of the draft report but had requested more information and a right of reply.
“They haven’t seen the updated report,” Mr Morgan said.
“We are refuting it because the KPMG report is incomplete and we are challenging their report in relation to the statements that are being made. It still requires further information.”
The report, commissioned after the Tainui tribal parliament chairwoman Tania Martin said spending by the executive was out of control, investigated financial management, due diligence and decision-making from 2009 till 2011.
It highlights several issues, including the payment of $1million to bail a Tainui marae out of financial trouble, not seeking approval for over-budget expenditure, and spending $2,612,863 in consultancy fees.
“Findings from this review indicate the need to improve policies, processes and the control environment relating to financial management by Te Arataura. Instances of deviation from financial policies and procedures have occurred,” the report said.
“In addition, transactions have taken place without the guidance of policies and procedures, and these underpin some of the findings. Awareness of the Te Kauhanganui policies and procedures is required through ongoing training of staff of [the tribal parliament] Te Kauhanganui and [executive] Te Arataura.”
Transactions approved without any policy and procedure in place also included daily allowances paid to executive members, an increase in governance fees and the back-dating of such increases, $100,000 paid each to Mr Morgan and Raiha Mahuta for negotiating the Waikato River Settlement, and $10,000 given to executive member Rahui Papa when his house burned down.
Also noted was increasing the fees paid to executive members, with the total amount paid in board fees during the three-year period $1,853,211.
“Total honoraria and fees of governance across Te Arataura and Te Kauhanganui has exceeded the $900,000 per annum threshold for the 2010 and 2011 financial years.”
There were several instances of no meeting claims forms to support the payment of additional meeting fees.
The report also says the tribe had still not recouped some of the costs incurred by Helen Kotua, who accompanied Maori King Tuheitia and four others on a trip to New York in 2009 that had placed the tribe’s charitable tax status in jeopardy.
It also said that Mr Morgan’s company credit card limit was $10,000, even though the tribe’s policy said the limit should be $5000.
Mr Morgan is the only member with a company credit card.
A recommendation was made in the report to enhance the reporting requirements between Te Kauhanganui and Te Arataura because the tribal parliament does not appear to be able to see how funds are used.
A second report is expected later that will cover the tribe’s governance, policy development and implementation, reporting and accountability.