New Zealand Labour Party

National MP implicated in Taratahi funding rorts

National MP Barbara Kuriger sat on the board of Taratahi Agricultural Training College and failed to stop rorts which were going on for years, Labour’s Tertiary spokesperson David Cunliffe said today. 

"Barbara Kuriger makes a joke of Steven Joyce's claim that the public's guarantee of proper funding processes are the boards of tertiary institutions.

“Last week in an answer to Parliamentary Questions on the failure of the oversight agencies NZQA and TEC to detect rorting by tertiary institutions, Mr Joyce laid responsibility for their oversight and reporting squarely on the tertiary institution boards.  

"At Taratahi, large scale rorting of course numbers and the enrolment of large numbers of tutors as ghost students were happening for years, but its Board took no action.  

"Now, to the Government's embarrassment, it turns out one of its own MPs, Barbara Kuriger, was a board member at the time.  

"It is hardly credible that the Taratahi Board knew nothing and did nothing, and that Ms Kuriger would not have tipped off the Minister. 

"Also, the Tai Poutini Polytechnic Council refused a protected disclosure investigation into enrolment, credit rorting and safety standards. 

“This follows evidence made public last week that a 540-hour, eleven month Advanced Rope course was being taught in just one week, with full funding being claimed. 

"There is no sign that any responsible action was taken by the TPP Council in relation to the complaint.  Rather, it appears the complainant, who had a strong background in quality assurance, was victimised and a personal grievance case followed. 

"Steven Joyce, once known as National's Mr Fixit, is left sitting haplessly on a broken system of systematic rorts, suspect boards and inadequate oversight agencies,” says David Cunliffe.