Maori Party welcomes Susan Cullen into the fold

Susan Cullen

Susan Cullen

A week is a long time in politics. The saying rings true as the Maori Party, who were critical of the Mana Movement’s involvement with millionaire Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party conjure up a millionaire of their own.

Our friends called, asking the question “Who is Susan Cullen?”

Let us fill you in…

She’s a rich b1tch who rorted a massive $74.2 million during her stint at the Wananga o Aotearoa. Of course it is no coincidence either that her father, Rongo Wetere, was the Wananga’s ‘big cheese’ at the time —no coincidence at all. (like a Tui’s ad, yeah right!)

Of course, one wonders about the size of the kickbacks received by Mr Wetere while he was raining down buckets of cash all over his own daughter —that must have have been astounding!

The Maori king was so impressed by Cullen’s ability to rip off an organization at such a scale that he convinced Cullen to serve as a director on his own shonky charity, the Ururangi Trust, and help him to rip off the Tainui tribe in similar fashion.

She did take a seat on his board, but the Maori king’s propensity to lose large sums of cash astounded even her. She gave the king a nice excuse and quit the job after just 3 months.

Now the Maori Party have taken her on for the upcoming election. Lets see how that goes —it might be amusing.

Rich daughter thanks wananga

By Jon Stokes

Saturday Dec 3, 2005

Companies owned by the daughter of Te Wananga o Aotearoa head Rongo Wetere earned more than $74.2 million in five years from contracts with the institution.

Susan Cullen has released details of contracts with the wananga exclusively to the Weekend Herald, just days before the release of an Auditor-General’s report into the institution.

The Audit Office confirmed in February that its investigations included claims of conflict of interest relating to Mrs Cullen and the wananga.

She was unapologetic about the level of income generated by the programmes – Mahi Ora, Kiwi Ora and Life Works – which she had developed. Income from the programmes propelled the former consultant “earning around $30,000 a year” to a multi-millionaire within a year.

“God sends waves and you have to learn how to surf them.

“I would do the same again if given the chance.”

Mrs Cullen estimates her personal fortune at around $30 million, which includes three Waikato farms, two rental properties and a commercial property.

She said Mahi Ora, which was set to be launched in Australia, was hugely popular and had been the catalyst for the wananga’s spectacular growth.

Wananga enrolments jumped from 800 in 1999 to 12,000 in 2001. In 2002, 25,000 students were enrolled in Mahi Ora.

The programme is a free, home-based, 12-month distance learning programme, covering educational choices, health, finance, housing and business development within a Maori context.

Life Works was a variation of Mahi Ora developed and sub-contracted to the Open Polytech.

Kiwi Ora offers a similar programme geared for new immigrants.

Kiwi Ora is run by Ora, a company owned by Mrs Cullen, with Government funding paid directly to Ora by the wananga less an 18 per cent fee.

A former adviser to the wananga who did not want to be named said the deal was unusual and should not have been entered into by the wananga.

He said Dr Wetere signed off on the contract after Mrs Cullen threatened to take it to AUT.

Mrs Cullen said there was nothing wrong with the arrangement and attacked the audit as a Government-backed move to take her father out of the wananga.

She said veiled threats had been made to Dr Wetere about the outcome of the audit, in a bid to get him to stand down.

“Mallard [then Education Minister Trevor Mallard] made it very clear he wanted the chief executive out of his job, and he would use any method, political, legal and bureaucratic to achieve that.

“The audit was called to bring him down.

“There have been regular delegations of those working for the Government to the family and my father, to encourage him to resign.

“All hingeing on the belief that the report was going to be bad for him.”

Mrs Cullen said while the audit raised concerns around some processes it fell short of the “hysterical” accusations levelled by former Act MP Ken Shirley.

Mr Shirley used parliamentary privilege in February to make a number of allegations including nepotism, financial mismanagement, cronyism, poor course quality and dubious enrolment practices.

“None of Ken Shirley’s allegations are in the report. They were false. They have had to resort to focusing on the Wetere family.

“There will be no serious fraud investigation. There has been nothing fraudulent in the family’s dealings with the wananga.

“We have always believed that the report would vindicate our family from the allegations.”

Mrs Cullen, who has a masters in education administration and a bachelor of science degree, designed the programmes based on 10 years experience contracted to Winz to develop programmes for the long-term unemployed.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Michael Cullen said the minister would not comment until the Auditor-General’s report has been released.

The terms of reference were released on Thursday at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing considering a claim that the Government’s dealings with the wananga breached a Treaty settlement.

Big earner

Income for companies owned by Susan Cullen:

2000-2001 Mahi Ora – $8.9 million
2001 Sale of Mahi Ora programme – $7.5m

Awarua (Life Works)
2002 Programme development – $1.5m
2004 Curriculum development – $300,000

2000-2005 Kiwi Ora programme $56m

Total $74.2m

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paretaihinu
    May 06, 2014 @ 11:42:37

    Maori party havent a show against Nanaia, stop play mind games Pita/Te Ururoa no matter what the Kingitanga done, still the majority for Nanaia…rather then the corrupt Nats team..!!!!


  2. Makerealbany
    May 06, 2014 @ 15:26:39

    Yes as I have said before she is clever. However it would have been a fairer balance to show what the expenditure for these Programmes was. Sure she made a lot of money but she did not make 74.2 Million.


  3. Paretaihinu
    May 06, 2014 @ 17:24:16

    Ive got nothing against Susan, it the way the Maori Party slings off at Mana Movement who speaks out for the Rawaore Pohara, yet brazenly shows off its Candidates…it takes peoples vote not alot of cash…and there are more needy people then rich ones out there…


  4. JJ
    May 08, 2014 @ 10:43:23

    Maori Party slings off at the Mana Party? Aye? It’s the other way around EVERYTIME ALL THE TIME. Tell the truth man.


  5. TM
    May 09, 2014 @ 06:01:33

    First; Maori Party did not stick to their kaupapa – The Seabed and Foreshore!!!!!! Second; The rift between tribes seems to have gotten in the way playing into the hands of the Pakeha so instead of uniting us these two are dividing us – NO strenght in that. Its a distraction, dysfunctional and unimpressive. If these parties were real about The people and their job in Politics they would discharge the illegal Government and place the system that frees us all. Emmulating Pakeha is doing nothing but driving Maori away from who we are and condoning a system that destroys us.


  6. Paretaihinu
    May 09, 2014 @ 16:35:57

    Tariana and Te Ururoa my whanaunga snubbed their noses at Mana when we urged Hone to have a united korero..with them..have you not read the news JJ. have you attended any of their hui at all?..we have stood with those kicked out of their State homes here in Glen Innes, no sign of any Maori Paati member with us for our WW11 uri now gone out of their homes..Maori Paati too busy taking crumbs off Nats table for the few…Kore Take..and im not a man, e kui tenei o Ngati Piikao me Hukanui ki Tainui..Ake Ake..


    • Makerealbany
      May 09, 2014 @ 19:52:24

      I agree with everything you have said. Te Ururoa is an articulate speaker at times but that is all he does. Talk, talk,talk. I have not seen him doing any mahi though. Except to stick his nose into Whanau business at a very sad time and upset my 85 year old Mum. He should think before he opens his waha and disrespects Kaumatua. My Questions to Tariana Turia at a Hui were glossed over. Pita Sharples I admire for his work with those at risk and in the Education area, however I won’t be voting for the Maori Party and neither will my Whanau .


      • aroha
        Jun 08, 2014 @ 15:29:31

        Te Ururoa is so buy doing the mahi I cannot understand how you can accuse him of not working for the people of aotearoa, he is such a true advocate for maoridom, there is nothing he will not attempt to help with or fix for our people, really you need to come to rotorua and talk with his staff to find out how busy te ururoa is, and all for the sake of a better way of life for us all.

  7. Paretaihinu
    May 12, 2014 @ 07:12:58

    Arohanui ki too Maama Makerealbany,, Aera they should be setting the standards our Kaumatua o mua.taught us, .today our younger whaanui are too busy listening to someones rubbish korero..Kia Ora kia koe..


  8. aroha
    Jun 08, 2014 @ 15:30:08

    typo there buy should read busy…. thank you


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