A Pacific leader at the centre of a critical Ministry of Health audit is standing for election at the local body elections.
Edwin Puni is standing for a seat on the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board under the National Party-aligned Auckland Future ticket.
Puni headed the inaugural New Zealand Pacific Leaders forum chaired by Prime Minister John Key at the Beehive in April.
The Herald can reveal Puni was chairman of the Health Star Pacific Trust, which a Ministry of Health audit in 2012 found lent money to board members and to companies in which board members had an interest.
The trust received about $5.8 million from the ministry and Auckland and Counties-Manukau district health boards to promote breast screening, pregnancy support, immunisation and HPV awareness to Pacific communities.
The audit found Puni partly owned Event Polynesia Ltd which was paid $70,000 for website costs “disproportionate” to the limited use of the site.
Companies Office records show Event Polynesia currently has two directors – Edwin Puni and Rosa Puni – both registered at the same South Auckland address.
Event Polynesia was paid $22,500 for secure storage of seven trust vehicles over two years at Puni’s property in South Auckland. An aerial photo in the audit showed “insufficient” storage for six vehicles and said it appeared likely vehicles were parked on the roadside.
Event Polynesia was paid $10,000 plus GST for associate sponsorship at two boxing events, which the audit said appeared to give “very limited, if any benefit” to the trust.
The audit also found Puni ran up a $10,786 bill on a trust mobile phone over five months and received an unsecured loan for $10,000 from the trust “to assist with cash flow” at 5.5 per cent interest when the ASB rate for unsecured personal loans was 17.95 per cent.The trust lent $310,000 to the Samoa Health Mission Charitable Trust, with which Puni and three other board members were associated. Interest on the loan was written off and only $76,567 was repaid, the audit said.
The audit contains responses from the trust to the issues raised. The trust said the 5.5 per cent interest rate on the $10,000 loan was higher than the bank investment rate, the boxing sponsorship was to promote the trust and phone bills were justified.
Is this another candidate given the chance to redeem himself via Sue Wood’s offender local body election rehabilitation program?
All the same, another Sue Wood and Michelle Boag stuff-up. Those two and Nikki Kaye really need to be held to account. It is no good Nikki Kaye trying to weasel out of it either, a quick check of her phone logs for calls to Sue Wood show just how deeply she is involved in the campaign.