Renewed call for canoe inquiry

TIM DONOGHUE AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 18/09/2012
FUN SITE: The wharewaka at the Rugby Village Fanzone on the  waterfront.
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ The Dominion Post

The Wharewaka on the Wellington Waterfront.

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The auditor-general is being asked to re-examine the construction funding of the wharewaka on Wellington's waterfront, after Dominion Post revelations surrounding Sir Ngatata Love.

In July Auditor-General Lyn Provost found no further investigation was needed into how a $7 million Government contribution to build the wharewaka was spent, after receiving a complaint from Tata Parata, a former Stokes Valley policeman.

He said public money was used without proper process, and the building was a commercial conference centre, cafe and catering kitchen that provided no benefits to Taranaki Whanui iwi.

Ms Provost said that, after gathering information from Te Puni Kokiri and the Office of Treaty Settlements, she was satisfied no further investigation was warranted.

Now Mr Parata has written to Ms Provost again, asking her to reopen the investigation after new information emerged about Sir Ngatata, who chaired the Wharewaka o Poneke Charitable Trust until stepping down last month.

These included allegations about payments made into a joint personal bank account of Sir Ngatata and his partner, Lorraine Skiffington, in relation to an office building on Tenths Trust land.

The allegations, made during a fraud trial of two Wellington accountants, prompted Sir Ngatata to step down as chairman of the Tenths Trust and various other Maori trusts. The allegations are believed to form part of a Serious Fraud Office investigation.

Mr Parata also wants Ms Provost to examine a Dominion Post report that Ms Skiffington sought $750,000 in consultancy fees to help secure Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust property at Shelly Bay for a film museum to feature props from Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies.

In mid-2008 Jackson had plans to build a museum as a joint venture with the trust, but the plans foundered after Ms Skiffington sought the consultancy fee.

"These two developments, both widely publicised in the Maori and mainstream media, now raise serious questions about the funding process of the wharewaka," Mr Parata wrote.

Last night the auditor-general's office said Mr Parata's complaint had been received, but it was too soon to know the response.

Contact Hamish Rutherford
Email: hamish.rutherford@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @oneforthedr

Contact Tim Donoghue
Email: tim.donoghue@dompost.co.nz

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- The Dominion Post

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