Coun­cil steers clear of stoush

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

Con­tro­ver­sial changes at the Porirua Whanau Cen­tre will not be in­ves­ti­gated by Porirua City Coun­cil, it was de­cided last week.

De­spite a 600-sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion pre­sented to the coun­cil in De­cem­ber, seek­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into changes to the ser­vice’s gov­er­nance, trust deed and name – from Fanau Cen­tre – coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously agreed it was out­side their scope.

How­ever, chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Simp­son will at­tempt to bring two par­ties – who both claim gov­er­nance over the Whanau Cen­tre – to­gether to re­solve the dis­pute.

The Whanau Cen­tre is a fam­ily sup­port ser­vice that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and ad­vo­cacy, a child­care cen­tre, coun­selling and hol­i­day pro­grammes.

Deputy mayor Liz Kelly, who also man­ages the Whanau Cen­tre, said a le­gal chal­lenge could be mounted if the coun­cil pur­sued an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, be­fore leav­ing the room due to her con­flict of in­ter­est.

Coun­cil­lor Litea Ah Hoi said the pe­ti­tion should not be ig­nored and it was the coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect com­mu­nity as­sets.

She was con­cerned own­er­ship of the Whanau Cen­tre build­ing was in the hands of two peo­ple – Ms Kelly and Whanau Cen­tre Trust chair­man Mike Fer­ma­nis – ‘‘and that’s really sad’’.

When Ms Kelly, who had re­turned to the cham­ber, ob­jected to Ms Ah Hoi’s com­ments, mayor Nick Leggett told her, ‘‘You are not in­volved, so shut your mouth’’.

He said the crux of the dis­pute was ‘‘peo­ple want­ing con­trol in the Creek com­mu­nity, and it comes down to money’’.

The build­ing was an im­por­tant as­set and needed to be op­er­ated in a trans­par­ent way, he said.

Ms Kelly was also chided by her former west­ern ward off­sider Ken Dou­glas.

‘‘It’s well-known that I worked closely with Liz for some time but she has lost my re­spect and has den­i­grated the role of deputy mayor,’’ Mr Dou­glas said.

Be­fore the com­mit­tee meet­ing be­gan, Lepeti Tea, chair­per­son of the Fanau Cen­tre Trust Board, es­tab­lished in op­po­si­tion to the cur­rent gov­er­nance struc­ture of the Whanau Cen­tre, urged the city’s lead­ers to in­ves­ti­gate.

‘‘ The Pa­cific com­mu­nity are well-known for not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the demo­cratic process . . . you need to help those that have come to you.’’

An­other del­e­ga­tion, com­pris­ing orig­i­nal found­ing mem­bers of the cen­tre, told coun­cil its name was orig­i­nally meant to be spelt with a Wh not an F, in def­er­ence to lo­cal iwi Ngati Toa.

Fem­i­nine fit­ness: Mana belly dancer Briar Rose Gill-Michaels hopes to start a pas­sion among Porirua women for Mid­dle East­ern dance at a Plim­mer­ton work­shop next month.

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