Waikato prison consultation costs $1.3 million2

For over 2 years the Prime Minister, the Minister of Corrections, and local MP Nanaia Mahuta have known of the problems occurring in the Waikato and the concerns raised by local Māori as they spent $1.3 million. 

I want to illustrate how serious those concerns are by reading out a letter I received today: “Kia ora, My name is Irene Kereama-Royal and I currently reside in Hamilton. I am a qualified lawyer and was admitted to the High Court in Auckland as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1995.... 

“In all of my years of working in this area, I have never seen such manipulation of the resource consent process nor had I seen before the blatant corruption for pecuniary gain that went on with some of the Waikato corrections employees. I know of the tribal embarrassment that this situation has caused and while I no longer work for the Lands Trust, I give testimony here to my experiences with this application during the period when consultation should have taken place with Iwi during 2002.”The chief executive officer and the barrister recommended against a contract being signed, because they believed that it was contractually unsound and against the interests of the trust. Let me explain what happened. I read again from the letter: “I understood that the contract was to employ several of Waikato’s unemployed people at the time it was signed. This included Hadyn Solomon, Tahi Ngakete, Shane Solomon and Norman Hill. These people moved into empty offices at the Lands Trust and were given Staff status as they had access to Trust cars, laptops, meetings rooms and came to Staff meetings. The new CEO of the Lands Trust was a personal friend and relative of all of these people and they were often seen around the Lands Trust buildings, laughing and talking together. They enjoyed priorities around the Lands Trust office that weren’t accorded to all Lands Trust Staff such as priority over the cars to get to their meetings with the maraes. Environment Waikato Staff came out to have meetings with this group at the Lands Trust. I was never invited to these meetings. I understood through this contract that the Lands Trust received a substantial amount of money. I also understood that the people who were employed by Corrections under this contract were also recipients of other corrections payouts such as Kaumatua fees, writers of the cultural assessment report and Resource Management Act advisors. All of these people benefited financially from the corrections contracts and salaries. I knew the marae people were extremely opposed to the application and had in no uncertain terms, publicly denounced their distaste of their own people deriving financial rewards from the establishment of a prison in their region. I knew that the opposition against the application from all the affected Waikato maraes was unanimous. Representatives of those maraes spoke with me at every opportunity they had to express their concerns with what they called the consultation corruption of corrections staff. Ngati Naho, Horahora Marae, Taniwha Marae, and Te Kauwhata residents that I spoke to were all frustrated with the entire process, and with the embarrassment they felt over being misrepresented by the corrections staff in their consultation hui. … I knew personally of the corruption they spoke of because I had experienced it in my position at the Lands Trust and my dealings with those corrections employees.” That was a fake consultation in a corrupt process, where the support was bought with taxpayers’ money. We learnt yesterday that there were 48 meetings on marae, at a cost of 438,000 taxpayer dollars. Let me describe one of those meetings. At that meeting there were 14 departmental staff and officials, and four members of the public.

Sources:

Rodney Hide, Hansard: 

http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/debates/debates/47HansD_20040324_00000701/general-debates quoting letter from 

Irene Kereama-Royal

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