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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Taking back the power

The chairman of Ngati Awa’s financial arm approved a $3.8 million contract with a carbon management company without gaining his board’s approval first.
Outlined in an Audit Committee report, the incident was described as “a serious breach in the organisation’s internal controls”.

The report had been based on an audit by the international accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, that was commissioned to review the financial reports of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) and Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd (NAGHL).
“This is in regard to the (NAGHL) chairman and a NAGHL director not following prescribed processes for investment decisions and not obtaining the required NAGHL board approval,” the report noted.

NAGHL is the subsidiary which takes care of the tribe’s financial assets. It is governed by a five-person board and chaired by formal civil servant Wira Gardiner.
According to the report Sir Gardiner and NAGHL director Graham Pryor executed the $3.8 million contract with CO2 New Zealand Management Company without first taking it to the NAGHl board for approval.

At the time Mr Pryor was also a director of the carbon management company that had received the contract.
“The director advised the chairman that the board had some time approved the contract. There is no documentary evidence (minutes or other record) to evidence apart from a “heads of agreement” with CO2 that had been signed much earlier and pror to due diligence and legal review.”

In addition Mr Pryor also failed to pass on legal advice received by him but addressed to the board. The advice, which was about the situation, raised serious issues concerning the suitability of the investment and contract for Ngati Awa.
It was also noted that there has been poor documentation in regard to services provided in lieu of repayment of a loan balance. The loan was not disclosed in the report.

As a result the Audit Committee requested a policy around conflicts of interest be drafted. The report was presented to the Te Runanga o Ngati Awa board at the meeting in November.
At the board meeting in February the chief executive of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa, Enid Ratahi-Pryor, presented the Conflict of Interest policy.

Mrs Rātahi-Pryor said the runanga was in danger because it didn’t have a policy around this area. She asked the board to approve it in principle and she would return at the next meeting with feedback.

“The runanga does not have a policy and this places the runanga at risk.”
She also said that she had commissioned her own independent report.

“I’m surprised about PWC, that they didn’t go down to these levels and identify places where changes could be made… I’m concerned that there was a $900,000 budget blowout in previous years.

“Rogue spending is quite easy by the CEO but we just need to know how they get through the systems. I know how they got through the systems.”
It was also noted by Nga Maihi representative Regina O’Brien that the board had failed to discuss the report in any comprehensive manner at the previous meeting.

“The audit report got five minutes because we were in a hurry to go to lunch.”
Her point was backed by Poroporo kaumatua and board member Joe Mason, who acknowledged that the report had raised important points.

“The audit committee meeting report needs to be considered by the board. It is important document and it deserves consideration by the board. There is no harm however in a special meeting to have a look at the document.
“There are some important recommendations in the document. There is no harm, if there is a special take, of calling a special meeting.”

The board elected to discuss the report at a workshop to be held at a later date.
Ok, with all that explained the big questions for me are: is Graham Pryor still a director of NAGHL? And what processes are there so that individuals cannot spend tribal money without first gaining approval?

This makes it two more questions for Mrs Ratahi-Pryor to answer at the meeting with Ngati Hokopu to be held at Wairaka Marae tonight.
Which brings us to the meeting and I have to commend Mrs Ratahi-Pryor for wanting to come.

I have already posed several questions through this blog and I can assure there will be many from others in the crowd tonight. Some will be uncomfortable.

There are not many who would stand in the face of criticism and offer to explain how it went so bad. I think it goes a long way that Mrs Ratahi-Pryor is willing to come and answer our questions kanohi ki te kanohi.
I also applaud her decision to conduct her own audit. Obviously she is also concerned about some of the tribe’s expenditure.

And clearly the terms of reference for the audit by PWC did not include the decisions around investments or any of the processes around it, it just looked at the financial recordings.
But it must also be remembered Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was a board member and a director on NAGHL when a lot of this spending was going on – if she didn’t know what was going on, what hope do we have?

We are the people and I reckon it’s time we took back the power.


  1. Hui please Haapu deligates come on wake up weve exsperienced Graeme pryor at Ngati rangitihi quite lethel able to do take overs of the iwi withought iwi concent con artist really bad for the people.

  2. Wasn't Enid Ratahi-Pryor on NAGHL? If so she is also responsible for some of the crap decisions made. The iwi have also been poorly served by the hapu delegates - time for a good hard look me thinks...

    Be interesting to do a comparison of how other post treaty settlement iwi are doing - at least we're not like Ngati Tama who have lost all? Probably not as good as Ngai Tahu and Tainui (who also have had their fair share of problems).

    Anyway awesome blog.

  3. Graham should be taken to court for his dishonest behaviour and exposed so that all other iwi who deal with him understand what he's like. Thank you Rangithi for your tautoko.

  4. No doubt the genuine audit will finally show how the staff managed to mislead the board, not as bad a Graham Pryor but not far off. My whanaunga John kept raising this at board meetings from about 2006. There was a "budget blowout" of over $400,000 paid to you guessed it "consultants". The board hadn't approved it. The then CEO said the amounts and the contracts were "confidential" so this meant that for all the board knew he was paying himself and his whanau. He wasn't as it happened but it could have been. Instead it was paid to people for very dubious services. Only one was legitimate if you ask me. One was paid to someone to help that person get out of a personal relationship dispute. We know because this person boasted about it. Funny what people will say when they're under the influence. It's been going on for years.

  5. Can i get an email address to send you something please.

  6. Tena koe Karla. Na te rahi tonu o nga mahi paa mai ki au, katahi ano au ka whai waa ki te aata panui i wo tuhinga "tu mataara". He wahine tino toa koe - koira tonu pea te oranga; ara, me pera i a Waiaraka i whakatika ra i te waka Mataatua. Engari ano, kaua tatau mo te kii "Kia Whakatane au i ahau" - arohaina te kite atu kua huri ke taua kii hei taunaki i nga nanakia o te Boyz Club. "He toka tu moana" - Tu maia ahakoa nga piki me nga heke.

    Karla. Due to my prevailing work loads I have only just taken quality time to read your "generating awareness" writings. You are indeed a very courageous lady - that maybe the remedy; that is, to act as Wairaka did in the rescue of Mataatua waka. However, let us waahine not reverberate those famous words "Let me act as a male" - unfortunately, that piece of our history now only serves to bolster conceited "Boyz Club" culture. "As a rock in the ocean" - denoting that one should stand their ground regardless of prevailing conditions.

  7. The recent high publicity infighting, dysfunction and histrionics of the Maori Women's Welfare League, to say nothing of the incestuous unaccountable kohanga national trust are good examples of why mana wahine fails just as much as mana tane. Balance grasshopper balance.

    Mere Paraone

  8. People who are in these positions fail to do "for the betterment of our peoples" money isnt the problem..its greed and thats simply it.We have our distinguished boundaries for the many Rohe in this area through whakapapa,karakia,waiata and moteatea.We are all the kaitiaki and should be looking after those in our Rohe as thats what these trusts were set up to do.Our old people are watching every move we make..and im not talking bout the ones on this plain.So for those who want to abuse your position to better your own ego or been seen and will be dealt with.

  9. Another ward 8 resident on the loose. What trusts? What are you talking about?