Plunket to repay money community says was taken from them

Plunket to repay money community says was taken from them
Photo credit: File

Plunket is defending itself against accusations that it's taking money from small communities to pay large head office salaries.

TVNZ reports the community of Pirongia is "at war" with the child health organisation. Plunket volunteers are reportedly threatening legal action to get $25,000 they raised for a new playground back.

Plunket CEO Amanda Malu told RadioLIVE the problems are due to organisational changes.

"We made a significant change to our governance structure nearly a year ago and the impact of that change is probably only being felt now by some of our communities," she says.

"Unfortunately, what happens when you're dealing with a pretty significant consolidation of all of these areas, one might slip through the cracks."

Ms Malu admits they've been "too slow" to get back to the community with approval to build the playground, and the money taken "absolutely is going back into the community".

"We've always been very clear about funds raised in communities are for our unfunded extra community support services," she told RadioLIVE.

"We've apologised to that community and absolutely freed up that money."

In 2017, 11 senior managers were paid salaries over $180,000. Plunket also spent nearly $2 million on consultancy fees, TVNZ reports.

Ms Malu defends the large salaries paid to senior staff members, saying this is due to the large budget and number of staff they need to manage.

"What a lot of people don't understand about Plunket is that we are a very large organisation," she says.

"We do need highly capable leadership."

But she says Plunket will do more to communicate with the local Plunket volunteers.

"When our fantastic local people raise money for Plunket, they know and they need to hear that the money goes back into local communities," she told RadioLIVE.