Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) has appointed a temporary Maori Student Liaison Officer after allegations of fraud were brought against several members of the Maori students’ association executive.
Discrepancies in Te Roopu Maori’s (TRM) financial reporting first came to light in October 2005, after an anonymous member of TRM brought the issue to the attention of Dunedin Police. Originally believed to be as high as $80,000, Otago University’s student magazine Critic has since received reliable information that the figure involved $20,000. OUSA President Paul Chong would not confirm this, but did concede that there “have been certain amounts of misappropriation [of TRM funds]”.
Chong says the OUSA has halted budgeted payments to TRM, but this is solely due to the fact that TRM is a legal non-entity, meaning that there is actually no organisation to receive payments. He says TRM is still functional “in spirit”, and OUSA has offered the organisation the use of its own auditors and lawyers.
Neither 2005 Tumuaki (President) Francis Pirini nor any other members of the 2005 TRM executive were unavailable for comment.
The police investigation is scheduled to get underway in the next month. Nobody Critic spoke to is willing to reveal the names of those under investigation, but Chong says there are “several” different people involved.