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Peters slams $60,000 for 'whanau connectedness'

Published: 6:07AM Wednesday May 30, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Giving a rugby club $60,000 to research "whanau connectedness" is proof the Whanau Ora scheme is a "bro-ocracy", NZ First leader Winston Peters says.

Otaki's Rahui Rugby and Sports Club received $60,000 last year under the Whanau Ora funding scheme to "undertake whanau development research" on resilience, whanau connectedness, and community leadership.

But Peters said the grant was absurd, as a rugby club would not have the experience or expertise to carry out proper social and economic research.

"Whatever their sporting expertise would be, which one of them is qualified to do the research we are talking about here? There is a lot of money involved."

The complaint follows Peters raising a string of concerns over Whanau Ora funds, including whanau trusts using money to organise family reunions, and Mongrel Mob members misusing $20,000 of government funding.

Rahui club president Rex Kerr said the research was carried out last year by Te Puni Kokiri into how the rugby club acted as a "hub" for the Maori community in the Otaki area.

The project, which was completed during the Rugby World Cup, included funding a community club day, with Maori health services and advocacy groups available to offer advice and support.

Peters questioned Prime Minister John Key yesterday on how grants for such research could be justified when many Maori faced real poverty.

Although Key would not comment on the individual grant, he said Whanau Ora was in place to help families in need of significant support.

However, Peters said Whanau Ora was a "bro-ocracy" set up to support the Maori Party's "declining number of mates".

"I've seen reports of groups having family reunions and so on, which is very laudable. But excuse me, people do that of their own volition. Why should the taxpayer have to fork out for it?

"Meanwhile, you've got Maori going hungry, Maori eating pig scraps because there's no food ... This is not a vision, this is a nightmare starting to develop."

Whanau Ora funds would be better used to get Maori communities decent housing, an accessible health and education system, and higher wages, Peters said. "These things are getting ignored and that's why Maori are leaving in their droves for Australia."

Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia said she had no problem with a rugby club getting funding so long as results were delivered for the benefit of whanau.

"In fact, the more community organisations that become involved the better - Whanau Ora is about empowering our whanau for successful outcomes and everyone is a part of that vision. Sorry, Winston, but Whanau Ora is here to stay."