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Thursday 4 April 2013

Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

A controversial report is calling for the structure of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) to be reviewed.
The suggestion was noted in a report from the audit committee but was overshadowed by the revelation that there had been a serious issue around a conflict of interest. The report stated that a director of the runanga’s financial arm, Ngati Awa Gro up Holdings Ltd (NAGHL), had faciliatated a business deal with a company where he was also a director.

Written as a result of an audit into the organisation’s financial accounts by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the report was signed off by the then-chairman of the runanga’s Audit committee, Waaka Vercoe.
Today, in a bid to add context, I propose to discuss the structure of the runanga. It was outlined by the runanga chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor at the meeting with Ngati Hokopu at Wairaka last month and I believe that to have a better understanding of some of the things that are going on in the runanga we must discuss it here.

At the head of the organization is the TRONA board with 22-members elected by the hapu of Ngati Awa. A chairman is selected to represent the board and in this case this is Te Kei Merito from Poroporo.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said she works very closely to Mr Merito.

“Your link is through the board. (Chairman) Te Kei Merito is my boss. I actually link directly to Te Kei. Initially I didn’t have a link to the hapu but im going to change that.”
To the side is the financial arm of the runanga, NAGHL, which is charged with managing the financial assets of the tribe and “creating wealth”.

Every year NAGHL give TRONA a $1.5 million dividend to help develop social initiatives such as education grants and iwi development.
NAGHL is governed by a board of five directors including Jo Mason, Waaka Vercoe, Graham Pryor, Brian Tunui. Former civil servant Wira Gardiner chairs the board.

According to Mrs Ratahi-Pryor beneath these two structures are several boards.
The executive committee made up by Mr Merito and board members Pouroto Ngaropo and Materoa Dodd.

Remuneration is Mr Merito and Mr Ngaropo along with the chief executive and board member Regina O’Brien.
The group charged with the organisation’s investments is new NAGHL director Brian Tunui and the man who helped facilitate the deal with CO2 New Zealand Management company, Graham Pryor. Civil servant Kay Read was recently appointed to the investment committee as the third member.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said Mrs Read’s appointment was in the interest of succession-planning but did not expand on how the selection was made.
And finally the Audit Committee which is made up by board representatives Charlie Elliot and Mrs O’Brien, two representatives from PWC and independent member Peter Taylor. The committee was chaired by Waaka Vercoe, however he was recently replaced by Mr Tunui.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said this was because Mr Vercoe was old and getting tired.
“He decided it is time for a change. It is time for new blood.”

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor, herself, is the chief executive of TRONA and NAGHL. The two roles were amalgamated under previous chief executive, Tiaki Hunia, who held the position for three months before he quit and Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was appointed.
And while many of the “bad” investments were made under another chief executive Jeremy Gardiner we must remember that before she took on her current role Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was a TRONA board member and a NAGHL director.

According to other board members Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was an active member of the board and the minutes of previous meeting shows she was often vocal in meetings.
With this in mind, shifting the blame for poor decisions is simply not feasible. Sure most of the bad investments were made under the previous chief executives particularly Mr Gardiner jnr but Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was part of the decision-making team and surely she must accept responsibility for this as much as anyone else?

Whether she was incompetent or ignorant it simply does not matter because as philosopher Edmund Burke said: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.
And that is why I started this blog.

It wasn’t to personally attack anyone. I do not have any personal agenda and I will not share my opinions about personal lives unless it affects the operations of the tribe.
But I will no longer sit back and do nothing about what I think is a very serious situation. As I have said before, I believe my role is to provide as much information as I can so that you can make your own informed decisions.

Elections for the TRONA board are this year and we have an opportunity to let our leaders know what we think.
And while I am delighted that many of you have chosen to share your opinions and thoughts I am disappointed that some of the comments have taken to slandering others without much proof. While some of the statements are probably true, the anonymous nature of the poster makes it unfair on those who are being targeted.

Many of you have noticed that I have chosen to use my real name, I have not hidden behind a pseudonym or remained anonymous, and as part of that I must be confident that the information I choose to share on here is correct and that I can back it up if I need to.
And I am confident that every statement of fact that I have made on this blog can be backed up with documents or through other people’s evidence.

So whanau, continue to share your thoughts but please ensure that you maintain a healthy respect for each other.
Heoi ano, next week I am hoping to confirm the story behind the change in the people on the audit committee.

Ma te wa.