Whanau centre quarrel goes to attorney-general
The validity of the trust board that runs the Whanau Centre in Cannons Creek has been challenged with an application to the attorney-general.
Chairwoman of the Cannons Creek Fanau Centre, Lepeti Tea, said its board was running under the centre’s 2000 Fanau Centre Trust deed. She said the name change to Whanau Centre and a ‘‘change of direction’’ for the organisation in 2012 had led to the legal challenge.
A Whanau Centre annual meeting, planned for December 5, was a risk, considering an application to the attorneygeneral had been made, Ms Tea said.
‘‘What this new board is doing is moving this organisation away from its grassroots members and what was set out in the 2000 deed, and the community is concerned.
‘‘These are public assets and public money being used, and we don’t feel there is enough scrutiny.’’
The Whanau Centre, managed by former Porirua deputy mayor Liz Kelly, is a family support service.
Chairman of the Whanau Centre board Mike Fermanis said the new board would engage lawyers if the attorneygeneral said there was anything that needed answering.
‘‘When we went through the changes, we were guided by [ lawyers] Rainey Collins and we’re comfortable we have established a structure in keeping with what was required by law.
‘‘ Child, Youth and Family have subjected us to a review as well and they were happy.’’
Ms Tea said it would be a start if the two boards could sit down and discuss their differences, but Mr Fermanis said it would be legitimising the Fanau Centre Trust.
He said much of what had transpired involved personal attacks on Ms Kelly and was confident it would become ‘‘ yesterday’s news’’ quickly.
One of the main criticisms his board faced was the lack of a community council, which would provide input on his board’s business. Not true, he said.
‘‘We have a community advisory committee, which makes what we’re doing very robust. There are checks and balances, there is transparency, and there’s no nepotism.’’
Mr Fermanis would present the annual report and accounts at the annual meeting on December 5, as planned.
Ms Tea said her five-member trust board held regular meetings and saw itself as ‘‘a trust-in-waiting’’.
She was hopeful the attorneygeneral would see fit to name her board as the rightful board to oversee the centre, but said it could be a lengthy process.
A 600-signature petition was presented to Porirua City Council last December, asking it to investigate the changes to the Whanau Centre’s governance, trust deed and name.
Councillors turned down the request, saying it was outside their scope.