A legal stoush is brewing in Porirua after the name of a community centre was changed from Fanau to Whanau.
The Cannons Creek Fanau Centre, established in 1994 as a community hub for Porirua's large Pacific population, has been renamed the Porirua Whanau Centre.
But the name change, which has been registered with the Companies Office, has prompted allegations that the trust board responsible for the move acted illegally.
Documents obtained by The Dominion Post show "a faction purporting to be the trust board" was removed last month for "failing to adhere to the strategic direction of the community council" that oversees it.
However, the trust board chairman insists he has not been removed, and he has the backing of Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly, who is also chief executive of the community centre.
Lepeti Tia, who says she is chairwoman of the new trust board, believes the name change is one of several serious breaches committed by former trustees.
"The trust board are putting up a legal challenge. There are serious breaches and violations by the former trustees that we will be legally challenging."
Ms Tia said the name change was not the main issue, but the way the trustees made the decisions without the support of the community council.
"Any activity that has resulted from their decisions over the last few days, including publicly declaring the new name, will all be legally challenged."
Mike Fermanis, who says he is still trust chairman and has not been told of his removal, said he was confident the name change was legally sound.
"As far as we know, we have gone through the right legal channels . . . I'm not aware of any new board, and I'm the one who has been working with the managers up there and the one doing all the work."
He said he received a letter from community council chairwoman Atarangi Clothier in October declaring the board's removal, but he had heard nothing more on the matter.
"I'm on the community council and wasn't invited to that meeting, and several others were also left out.
"Nobody has said anything to me and there are all these Chinese whispers happening in the community, but no-one has come up to me and said what I'm doing is wrong."
Ms Kelly said the board headed by Mr Fermanis was "legitimate".
"I can assure you that we have a competent board that reflects our community and has the skills needed."
Despite the legal challenge, the name change was formally introduced on Friday by Housing, Health and Social Development Associate Minister Tariana Turia.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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