NGO sits on more than $600,000 of taxpayer cash


Looks like the Director General of the Ministry of Health may be getting another “please explain” phone call from the Minister’s office as more financial woes are discovered deep within the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health is already in a right mess following serious financial mismanagement of its $24 million head office refit. Treasury needs to expand their investigation as the financial mismanagement within the MOH is a shambles.

We have frequently outlined examples of government funding troughing happening right under MPs noses.

One example was Te Reo Marama’s Shane Kawenata Bradbrook. You may recall that their $1.2m funding rort was axed by the Ministry of Health after an audit showed he spent more time jet-setting around the world than actually trying to stop Maori from smoking.

Jump forward a few years we’re seeing it all happening again. Take anti-tobacco group ASH New Zealand.

Over the years this NGO has raked in more than $4.5 million. In their last financial statement, published on the Charities Services website, they tucked into a whopping $977,375 from the Ministry of Health.   

Essentially the Ministry of Health pays for everything ASH New Zealand does, including their rent, rates and power…everything!



I have always wondered just what ASH New Zealand was up to, especially as they readily tuck into hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to the good taxpayers of New Zealand. Their website shows precious few updates and almost no demonstrable outcomes for millions in taxpayers’ cash.

Here’s how much money they’ve received over the last few years.


ASH New Zealand also states on their website, “Copies of our service specification and reports relating to our current contract agreement as below.”


As part of the reporting provisions, the Ministry requires ASH to provide reports and information including a report on any exceptions, issues or problems. Precious few of those reports identify any achievable goals or record any issues such as staff employment disputes. Surely competent and prudent governance models require such updates to be notified at least to the board and ultimately to the funder, in this case the taxpayer.

It makes you wonder whether ASH New Zealand have advised their contract manager in the Ministry of Health about any recent issues of note.

Then ASH New Zealand’s latest published accounts showed up quite a little nest egg of term deposits.

It does make you ponder whether or not Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Finance Minister Bill English are aware that hard-earned taxpayer money is being siphoned off into term deposits for NGOs.unnamed-4


Apparently ASH New Zealand feel they’re perfectly entitled to build up a little nest egg thanks to the taxpayer. Nice to see ASH New Zealand requiring more than $250,000 in ‘reserves’.



Now the rumour mill out of Wellington is that the Minister responsible for tobacco issues Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga is about to make an announcement about a recent review of tobacco control spending.  Will ASH New Zealand still be deep in the trough?

Further to this, if ASH New Zealand is by chance getting the cold shoulder, and word is that they are, what happens to all the taxpayer coin they have tucked away?


You could be forgiven for thinking that they should actually return the money back to the Government whence it came in the first place.

But no, ASH New Zealand seems to think little about the taxpayer and more about their own interests, like handing out funding to their relatives.

Maybe the Ministry of Health should conduct an investigation into ASH New Zealand. They may find a few more problems aside from the multiple employment dispute issues facing the management.

Then of course there is their failure to meet statutory requirements to file up to date accounts. The last accounts filed end 30 June 2014, nearly two years ago. Could it be that nice little nest egg has been magicked away? Or perhaps diverted into companies associated with key staff in an undeclared fashion?

I really do think the Minister should be looking really rather closely at the governance and financial arrangements of this crowd.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.