We'll do better - TPK

Last updated 00:00 23/08/2007

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Te Puni Kokiri has given assurances that poor management of grants highlighted in a critical auditor-general's report are being fixed.

The audit, issued in May, of $15.6 million of grants doled out between 2004 and 2006, found cash was paid out too early and that there was a lack of proof that monitoring had occurred.

That led National to claim in May that the Maori development agency needed "a kick up the bum".

Yesterday, before Parliament's Maori affairs select committee, Te Puni Kokiri chief executive Leith Comer told MPs the department had taken the auditor-general's criticisms to heart and promised "major improvements" by the time the grants scheme was next audited.

"This isn't about an organisation that is systematically all over the place.

"We've taken seriously the need to have a closer look."

The hearing at one point bordered on farce as MPs and officials got their wires crossed about where money was being allocated and for what purpose.

Incomplete information provided to the committee by Parliament administrators led to National MP Tau Henare asking "the $7000 question" - or why every applicant appeared to have received a $7000 grant regardless of the applicants' size, location or activities.

After great confusion and heated argument between Mr Comer and Mr Henare, it was revealed that the list provided by TPK had all grants, ranging in size from $1000 to more than $100,000, but the pages Mr Henare received had only grants worth $7000.

TPK agreed to give the committee a fresh list, sorted by region rather than grant size.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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