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Auditor-General's inquiry into Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

18 March 2005

Since September 2004, the Auditor-General has been inquiring into potential conflicts of interest in relation to the Kiwi Ora programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

As a result of this preliminary work, some other issues emerged. Further allegations have since been raised in the public domain, some of which have been the subject of requests for the Auditor-General to extend his inquiry. Consequently, the Auditor-General has reconsidered the nature and scope of his current inquiry.

Because of the public interest in Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the Auditor-General has decided to publicly release terms of reference for this revised audit and inquiry (the inquiry).

These terms of reference set out the full nature and scope of the inquiry into Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. They also describe matters that have been excluded.

The inquiry will examine:

  1. The procurement policies and practices used by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, with a particular focus on selected transactions where Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Councillors, employees, and/or their close relatives are involved.
  2. The international travel policies and practices of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, with a particular focus on selected transactions.
  3. Selected payments made to Councillors and/or employees of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, in relation to their involvement with entities controlled by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
  4. The identification and management of conflicts of interest by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in relation to the Mahi Ora, Kiwi Ora, and Greenlight programmes.
  5. The relationship and transactions between Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and the Aotearoa Institute Te Kuratini o Ngā Waka Trust (and its subsidiaries).
  6. The implementation of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa's capital acquisition strategy in relation to selected recent capital purchases.
  7. The processes used by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa when it employed close relatives of the Tumuaki/Chief Executive of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
  8. Any other issues that the Auditor-General considers relate to, or arise out of, the above matters.

The inquiry will be conducted under sections 16(1) and 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001 (the Act). Those sections provide as follows:

Section 16 ­ Performance audit

(1) The Auditor-General may at any time examine -

(a) the extent to which a public entity is carrying out its activities effectively and efficiently:

(b) a public entity's compliance with its statutory obligations:

(c) any act or omission of a public entity, in order to determine whether waste has resulted or may have resulted or may result:

(d) any act or omission showing or appearing to show a lack of probity or financial prudence by a public entity or 1 or more of its members, office holders, and employees.

Section 18 - Inquiries by Auditor-General

(1) The Auditor-General may inquire, either on request or on the Auditor-General's own initiative, into any matter concerning a public entity's use of its resources.

Because of the breadth of issues included within the scope of the inquiry, the Auditor-General has identified some immediate priorities for examination, and is likely to focus mainly on transactions and activities during the 2002, 2003, and 2004 financial years. It is his current intention to report in stages, and to report first on items 1-4 of the matters listed above.

The Auditor-General will not examine the following matters as part of the inquiry:

  • the appropriateness of the type and funding levels of courses offered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa;
  • concerns about the quality of certain education courses delivered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa; and
  • the enrolment practices (including allegations about the use of inducements) of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

In the Auditor-General's view, these issues can be dealt with more appropriately by the relevant government agencies. In respect of these matters, the Auditor-General will liaise, as necessary, with the Tertiary Education Commission, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and the Ministry of Education.

The inquiry is being conducted at the same time as the Auditor-General is carrying out his annual audit of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, under section 15 of the Act and section 220 of the Education Act 1989. While the Crown Manager will be considering the current financial position and financial viability of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, this will also be a matter of interest for the 2004 annual audit of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. The Auditor-General will maintain close contact with the Crown Manager to ensure that any matters arising during the inquiry can be dealt with appropriately.

The Auditor-General will report under sections 20 and 21 of the Act on these terms of reference. The Auditor-General will present his reports on the findings of the inquiry to the House of Representatives.

Contact for enquiries

Wendy Venter, Assistant Auditor-General
tel: (04) 917 1500
e-mail: Wendy.Venter@oag.govt.nz

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