PM's wife's on board of organisation awarded suicide-prevention contract

Prime Minister Bill English's wife Mary English (far right) is on the board of Le Va.
Prime Minister Bill English's wife Mary English (far right) is on the board of Le Va. Photo credit: Le Va

Funding for suicide-prevention training has doubled and gone to a Pasifika organisation - which the Prime Minister's wife is on the board of.

The large Ministry of Health contract awarded to Le Va in March has come under scrutiny after it emerged Dr Mary English was on the board.

The contract of $560,000 a year is to provide nationwide suicide prevention programmes for frontline workers.

It's understood Dr English has been on the board for two years, NZME reports.

Mr English's office says he wasn't even aware the contract had been awarded until he saw media reports on Monday.

The funding grant was controversial because when Le Va was awarded the money, Lifeline lost its $285,000 annual contract for providing training to workers from various organisations dealing with suicide prevention.

Now the suicide prevention training will be operated by Le Va, through a new programme called Lifekeepers. Funding for the progamme has almost doubled, increasing by $250,000 a year.

Le Va's chief executive Dr Monique Faleafa told NZME the contract was won through merit, not "through friends".

A statement on Le Va's website says the organisation believes "solutions lie within our own communities... We walk alongside churches, sports clubs, education centres and relevant groups with large Pasifika populations to ensure the right knowledge, skills and information is reaching the right people at the right time."