One of the women at the centre of the Kohanga Reo Trust spending saga has rubbished the misspending allegations against her, calling them unfounded.
But Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi admits they brought shame on the Kohanga Reo movement at a time when it is trying to modernise and make positive change.
Dame Iritana has dedicated her life to the Maori language, but allegations she and her daughter-in-law abused their work credit cards have tarnished the movement.
For three decades she has sat on the Kohanga Reo National Trust board.
As director of its subsidiary, Te Pataka Ohanga, her spending records have been investigated internally and may be part of wider investigations by the Serious Fraud Office and Internal Affairs.
Her daughter-in-law, Lynda, was sacked from Te Pataka Ohanga after it was revealed she bought two dresses worth $1600 on her work credit card.
Dame Iritana spent $300 on lamps for her home office, and made cash withdrawals of $3400 for koha payments.
Maori Television's Native Affairs – which first broke the spending story – was banned from today's news conference. They were told by the communications advisor it was because "they hate you".
The questions were brushed aside, organisers wanting to focus solely on a national hui, which has voted to modernise the Kohanga Reo movement.
But despite what looks like a unanimously positive outcome from the three-day hui, two serious investigations hang over the Kohanga Reo National Trust board, and until these allegations have been addressed the negative headlines threaten to overshadow the good.
source: newshub archive