Housing Minister Megan Woods promises to 'tidy up' unlawful purchase of Ihumātao

Housing Minister Megan Woods is promising to "tidy up" the Government's unlawful spending of $30 million of taxpayer money on Ihumātao. 

The Auditor-General has investigated the land purchase and found the Government didn't jump through the correct funding hoops. It's now being forced to fix the botch-up.

ACT and National both wrote to the Auditor-General asking it to investigate the Government's spending of public money to purchase the south Auckland land. 

It turns out the Government dipped into a pocket of the public purse it wasn't allowed to touch - it didn't have Parliament's sign-off.

ACT leader David Seymour says Finance Minister Grant Robertson isn't up for the job. 

"The Minister of Finance should go for this," he told Newshub. "It doesn't actually get much worse than that - people fought wars on the basis of no taxation without representation."

National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says the Government "cut corners".

"They did a dodgy deal and they've been found out."

The Auditor-General found the "payment of $29.9 million used to purchase the land was incurred without the proper authority" and that the "payment is unlawful until validated by Parliament". 

It hasn't been.

"They wrote themselves their own cheque, they didn't front up to the public about that, they didn't follow the lawful processes, and the Auditor-General has slammed them," says Willis. 

Here's how it basically went down.

The Government tried to borrow KiwiBuild cash to pay for the contested land at Ihumātao. Newshub revealed Treasury said no way. So the deal was announced in December without the proper legal sign-off.

The Government got creative and magicked up a special Ihumātao pot of gold in February - two months after the fact. 

"We'd reject that we've done that. It was funding that was intended to purchase land for housing - that has been our intent," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

But the intent is irrelevant. The Government didn't have sign-off. And now, the Auditor-General is forcing Megan Woods to fix the record, saying: "The Minister of Housing is required to explain the matter to the House... and seek validation."

Dr Woods says it can be fixed. 

"This is something that will need to be tidied up, but this is not uncommon," she told Newshub. "It's certainly not the way we aim to operate, but this is a technical error."

Getting Parliament's permission to spend taxpayer cash is about as basic a function of democracy as they come.

Whether this was inexperience or intentionally inappropriate - neither is good governance and neither is good enough.