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Posted by karere under Maori News
Personal spending by a manager at a subsidiary of the National Kohanga Reo Trust is being investigated.
Lynda Tawhiwhirangi is the general manager of Te Pataka Ohanga (TPO), which is a subsidiary of the national trust.
Following an investigation by Maori Television into the spending, the state-funded broadcaster was forced to go to court after the trust gained an interim-injunction in September on the grounds of confidentiality.
That injunction has since lapsed.
Court documents obtained by TV ONE’s Marae Investigates allege the credit card was originally signed off by Mrs Tawhiwhirangi’s mother-in-law, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi.
Dame Iritana is a director for Te Pataka Ohanga and is a lifetime member of the national trust.
Toni Waho told Marae Investigates this morning that the trust does not receive any Government funding.
Affidavits from both the broadcaster and Lynda Tawhiwhirangi outline spending on the TPO credit card.
The court documents show that the credit card was used to purchase a wedding dress in Auckland by a person identified only as Courtney.
Mrs Tawhiwhirangi outlines the details of that purchase in her affidavit.
She told the court she had flown from Wellington to Auckland and visited Felicity’s Bridal.
Courtney found a dress she liked but when she came to put a deposit down, she realised she had left her credit card in Wellington.
“I admit that I used the TPO credit card as a last resort,” Mrs Tawhiwhirangi said.
“I knew that this was personal expenditure and was not permitted, but I also knew that I could reimburse TPO immediately so I decided I would have to pay for the dress and then set out to ensure that TPO was reimbursed as quickly as possible.”
The documents also show the credit card was used to buy:
- A Trelise Cooper dress.
- A 21st birthday present for Georgia Solomon, who was in a relationship with one of Mrs Tawhiwhirangi’s sons and did work experience at the trust.
- A farewell dinner for staff member Eamon Tawhiwhirangi.
- Withdrawal of $1000 cash at BP Connect in Whitby for a Koha at a Hui that was in Hamilton, but for which Mrs Tawhiwhirangi did not attend. She says the cash is held in a safe.
- Costs associated with the graduation of her son Rakai, a former TPO employee, from his induction into the New Zealand Army.
Mrs Tawhiwhirangi defends the last spend by saying that TPO “would have done the same or similar for any former employee who joined the Defence Force.
However, she has since made moves to repay the money used to purchase the Trelise Cooper dress.
“I had the cash readily to hand but the repayment took longer than I was expecting because I wasn’t entirely sure which of TPO’s bank accounts I should deposit the reimbursement into,” she said.
Mrs Tawhiwhirangi has previously been convicted of an offence relating to dishonesty.
In further evidence, Mrs Tawhiwhirangi responds to allegations about that offence.
“I have never made a secret of my conviction. I broke the law, I was caught, and I was punished.
“Since then I have worked very hard to make something of myself. I do not see that I have anything to be ashamed of in how I have conducted myself at TPO,” she said.[here]