Whanau cen­tre quar­rel goes to at­tor­ney-gen­eral

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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