MINISTER SAYS FUNDING FIGURES MANIPULATED

  • Jack Elder
Internal Affairs

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Jack Elder, says the Shanghai visit of a champion Auckland school kapahaka group, partly funded by his Lottery Ministerial Discretionary Fund will be of considerable benefit to New Zealand.

He accused Opposition Internal Affairs spokesman Trevor Mallard of manipulating funding statistics for political purposes by claiming that "in the last year" $75,000 out of $76,000 granted had gone to West Auckland schools.

"A check of lottery grants made under the Minister's Discretionary Fund reveals that in that financial year referred to by Mr Mallard, the year ended June 30, 1999, no schools received any assistance," he said. "A kapahaka group from Northland did receive $4000 for overseas travel.

"In the previous financial year ended June 1998, St Margaret's School, Christchurch, received $1000 and in West Auckland, Henderson South School received $10,000 and Rutherford High School $20,000.

"Since January 1996 a total of four schools, including the Hoani Waititi Kura kapahaka group, have had applications approved by me and only two schools have been declined."

Mr Elder explained that the Discretionary Fund is used to meet requests which are not eligible for assistance from Lottery Committees.

"Applications are accepted from charitable groups and organisations to enable travel to one-off events or conferences where attendance will benefit the wider New Zealand community," Mr Elder said. "There is a good chance that the Hoani Waititi Kura kapahaka group will been seen by millions of Chinese people during their visit and it is wrong to underestimate the potency of the image they will convey on behalf of our nation."