Questionable spending at Kiwi schools totals hundreds of thousands of dollars

The Education Minister has put Kiwi schools on notice, after the Auditor-General revealed questionable spending, totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Blockhouse Bay Intermediate School in Auckland is a stand-out, when it comes to questionable spending of taxpayer dollars.

It collected $3700 for victims of the Fiji floods, but the school kept the money for itself.

It was also pulled up for its spending on overseas travel, spending $26,000 on a trip to Korea for 21 students and staff.

Across the country taxpayers have picked up the bill for overseas field trips, leaving parties and even a ride-on lawn mower for a departing principal.

Hoani Waititi School spent nearly $250,000 on a trip to Rarotonga for 251 students, staff and parents.

Dannivirke's Tamaki Nuii A Rua School also spent $42,952 on a trip to Rarotonga for 35 students, staff and parents, while Manurewa School spent an unspecified amount on a trip to Kuala Lumpur for five staff, without evidence of educational outcomes.

"Sending a large number of students like that and subsiding that to a large extent by education grant funding should ring alarm bells," says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

It doesn't stop there. Kingsford School in Mangere gave its principal gift vouchers totalling $10,000. At Puhinui School in Papatoetoe, the principal was given a ride-on mower worth $8500.

Then there's Blockhouse Bay Intermediate again, the board splashed out $7000 on a party for its departing principal, as well as a $3000 gift.

"Schools are all on notice, really, now, that their spending is a matter of public record," Mr Hipkins said.

The Prime Minister isn't impressed either.

"I'd probably take a similar view to the parents of that school and find that very surprising," she said. "I'll look at the Auditor-General's report."

The Auditor-General also revealed about 100 schools breached financial rules by borrowing more than they should have or in some cases, providing loans to staff.