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Hapu leader calls for investigation of Waitangi media charge

Published: 8:06AM Friday February 04, 2011 Source: ONE News

Chairman of the Matarahurahu hapu, David Rankin, has called for an urgent investigation of the finances of Te Tii marae.

He has requested all financial records of the marae be made available to him by midday on Saturday.

"If I do not receive sufficient evidence of transparency in the marae's financial dealings, I will formally ask IRD to investigate the way in which the marae's funding has been appropriated," Rankin said today.

Rankin says $25,000 has been allocated to the marae by the Waitangi Commemorations Committee, and that sum is in addition to "the thousands of dollars the marae will be collecting from media organisations which it has levied a charge of $1000 each this year".

He said the decision to charge to $1000 koha has been made without the consent of the marae's shareholders.

"I am a shareholder of the marae, and none of us was even informed of this 'koha'. Had I known, I would never have approved", he said.

Earlier this week Rankin told Breakfast the fee being charged went against the Maori culture of hospitality.

"The ethos of our culture is based upon sharing and bringing people together, not separating," Rankin said.

But Hama (Albie) Apiata, the chairman of the Waitangi Marae Maori Committee, told ONE News on Wednesday that criticism of the Waitangi Day charge is ill-informed.

Apiata said the fee, charged to all media outlets bar the local iwi radio station, helps cover the costs of the day.

"The new committee here is just doing what's happened in years gone by - in fact $2000 was previously recommended," he said.

"We have to put up marquees, feed everyone, clean up the mess afterwards. The money helps with looking after the marae for the community here that has it all year round, not just for one day.

"The marae goes into debt for this and that has to be covered. We are a small village looking after a national marae," Apiata said.

Rankin said earlier in the week media shouldn't pay the money and if they do they should get a receipt so the money can be tracked.

"I want to see some transparency. Where is this money going? Does it go into the coffers of the marae. Does it go back to the shareholders of the marae or is it going to someone's purse or pocket?," he said.

He also claimed there are no records of where the money from last year's government grant went.

"There should be a set of accounts, receipts, IRD records, and proof of expenditure", Rankin said today.

"Instead, there is nothing at all, and so far this year, the same applies for this year's funding."

Rankin said he has questions that need to be asked of the Te Tii Marae spokesperson Kingi Taurua.

"What I simply want to know is where has the money gone?"

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