Audit exposes failures

The failed Te Rapuora Trust leased space at its Blenheim property to a board member's son rent-free, despite plans to fund its activities by sub-leasing space, audit documents show.

Board chairwoman Margaret Bond's son, James Skipper, ran a boxing gym at the trust's leased premises at Grove Rd.

Mr Skipper opened the Bad Boy Boxing Academy in January 2011. His rent-free lease agreement was extended by Te Rapuora Trust for a further year in August 2011.

The audits of the trust's finances and management, carried out in October and November last year by the Nelson Marlborough Health Board and the Ministry of Health and released under the Official Information Act, noted that Te Rapuora had a conflict of interest register which did not include familial or other relationships. Ms Bond had excused herself from the decision to extend her son's lease agreement.

Neither Ms Bond or Mr Skipper could be reached for comment yesterday.The trust, Te Rapuora o te Waiharakeke, closed at the end of the year because of financial problems. It is now in liquidation.

It was the first Maori health provider in the South Island, and served the Maori community in Nelson and Marlborough for 26 years.

Services have since been picked up by four other Maori health providers.

The ministry's financial audit found that while the trust was solvent at June 30 last year, it would have become immediately insolvent if it had to return funding overpayments.

The health board audit found significant issues relating to the Te Rapuora Trust board's performance, with the manager, chairwoman and a board member all describing the board as "dysfunctional".

Health board Maori health director Harold Wereta said the board was receiving legal advice on its options to recover overpaid funding.


The audits also revealed:

The Maori health provider was overpaid more than $150,000 by the health board for staff positions that were either not filled in time or were under-resourced.

Three vehicles bought in February last year were purchased without proper authority.

The trust was liable to repay $32,000 to the ministry for not meeting obligations in its funding agreement.

Eight family members of a Te Rapuora trust member were identified who were employed or had been employed by the organisation or received funding from it, but the name of the person was blacked out in the copy given to the Marlborough Express.

The trust's conflicts register had not been updated since 2006. 

The Marlborough Express