$700K school trip to Hawaii

The trip was intended to help students retrace the footsteps of their ancestors. File photo.

A Rotorua school has been singled out by the Office of the Auditor-General for spending almost $700,000 on a school trip to Hawaii.

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ruamata spent $695,511 on last year's trip, of which only $37,667 came from those attending.

In total, the kura funded a trip to Hawaii for all 139 students, 21 teachers, and 73 caregivers.

The Office of the Auditor-General considered it “unusual for a school to spend this amount of money on a trip of this nature”.

School principal Cathy Dewes says a greater proportion of the money was raised by the school than merely the figure mentioned in the report.

“That figure is somewhat misleading, because we've been planning and fundraising by various means for about 10 years now. So that $37,000 was just one year's contributions.

“We've met with the ministry and showed them evidence of how the funds were accumulated. They seemed satisfied with the evidence we provided.”

However, a proportion of the funds did come from the government, although the school would not specify how much.

Cathy says the school has made savings over the years by using volunteers to performing duties such as cleaning.

The savings are then channelled into other ventures, such as the Hawaii trip.

In regards to the educational value of such a trip, Cathy says it's part of researching the heritage of their students, who are predominately Maori.

“It's part of our policy to provide an overseas experience for our students. It's an essential part of our curriculum to retrace the footsteps of our ancestors.”

The Office of the Auditor-General also questioned a loan of $311,000 made to a trust (of which the principal is a trustee) “in breach of section 73 of the Education Act 1989”.

Cathy says legal advice has been sought over that matter.

“A loan was made to our parent body to get them through a financial hump. It was all transparent and above board, and approved by our whanau and governance procedures. The loan will be repaid.

“We still have a healthy cash reserve of somewhere in excess $500,000. It was raised by our auditor as a post-year event worth noting. The Education Act doesn't contemplate this kind of action, which was why the auditor raised it.”


The dictionary indigenous is not for races of people

Posted on 04-01-2017 11:42 | By Peter Dey

Crash test dummies, dictionaries will eventually change the definition of indigenous to include the UN definition that indigenous people are the first settlers in any land, because we now know that all people everywhere were originally immigrants from Africa. In the meantime people should stop applying the dictionary definition of indigenous to races of people because it is obviously ignorant nonsense to do so.

Dictionary definition of indigenous ?

Posted on 04-01-2017 11:00 | By Crash test dummies

Well Peter, why don't you change that to suit also, like that's not been done before?

Dictionary definition of indigenous no longer makes sense

Posted on 02-01-2017 10:18 | By Peter Dey

iknow has described the use of the word indigenous perfectly. But the dictionary definition to describe people no longer makes sense. Modern science tells us that the human race originated in Africa and that all races immigrated to their present homeland. The dictionary definition of indigenous as naturally existing in a place, not arriving from somewhere else therefore applies to no people anywhere. The UN definition of indigenous as first settlers is the only definition for people that now makes sense, and Maori were the first settlers here. Using the dictionary definition of indigenous for people is just debating nonsense.

Good try Iknow,

Posted on 02-01-2017 09:20 | By R. Bell

The Maori encountered by the arriving British were all naturally existing. They did not come from another place. Human life did not evolve in N.Z. it evolved in Africa. Words also evolve including "indigenous" try changing the word GAY back to its original meaning, see how far you get. Which ever way you crack it Maori are indigenous to N.Z. end of. Robin Bell.

You are all correct (confusing)

Posted on 01-01-2017 11:04 | By astex

The original meaning of indigenous was according to the dictionary "naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place". This was changed in 1972 by the UN to include "first peoples" in acountry. Therefore it IS correct that a) Maori are NOT indigenous but also b) Maori ARE indigenous. Depends on your particular viewpoint.

Maori are indigenous

Posted on 29-12-2016 16:42 | By Peter Dey

It is always worthwhile for people to see that those who claim that Maori are not indigenous have no credible evidence to support their claim.

Well done rocco,

Posted on 29-12-2016 10:25 | By R. Bell

you have managed to divert attention away from the real issue, well almost. After the thorough thrashing you've had is it any wonder? You clearly do not understand the meaning of indigenous, and your inference toward Peter and I proves beyond doubt the inherent need to ridicule that drives you and your mates. Remember rocco people are not as stupid as you believe. Robin Bell.

Denial of scientific evidence is real daydreaming

Posted on 29-12-2016 10:04 | By Peter Dey

ROCCO is simply blustering when he denies the scientific evidence of Janet Wilmshurst. Janet Wilmshurst's evidence was published by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, which is the official scientific adviser to the US Government. She worked in collaboration with scientists from universities in Australia and the United States including Hawaii. Her evidence showed no human habitation in New Zealand before Maori arrived. Her evidence has not been scientifically contested since it was published in 2011. People who deny her evidence without any valid evidence of their own are simply revealing their own ignorance and prejudice.

Daydreaming as usual by the 2 Ronnies Dey&Bell

Posted on 29-12-2016 08:57 | By ROCCO

Wilmshurst's cursory research proved no such thing and nor could it or she ever do so. All the evidence in fact points to the contrary even that which is being hidden away or systematically destroyed.


Posted on 29-12-2016 08:05 | By R. Bell

You can google the answer to "what the A.G.has to say about it" very little actually. He and his office call for clarity around the issue. In 2008/9 the ministry of education attempted to circulate guidelines but quickly withdrew them, no doubt after protestations from schools who see the value of cultural exchange. My comments may not meet your exacting standards, but you, and others clearly get the message. As usual Peter puts it so succinctly. Robin Bell.

ROCCO, Maori were proved to be indigenous in 2011

Posted on 28-12-2016 22:30 | By Peter Dey

ROCCO, the scientific radiocarbon evidence from Janet Wilmshurst, published by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2011, prove that there were no residents in New Zealand before Maori arrived about 1280AD. Nobody has contested this evidence since 2011. ROCCO is now six years out of date if he still believes that Maori are not indigenous to New Zealand.

An unusual not illegally funded trip

Posted on 28-12-2016 22:24 | By Peter Dey

The Auditor-General found the spending unusual not illegal. It was unusual because the whole school went. The trip cost those who went $3000 each, was fundraised over 10 years. Kellbell, Crash test dummies, NotNat, morepork, overit, pamken, walknot are all protesting about a trip that was approved by the ministry of education after consultation before the trip. They are all protesting because of a sensationalised heading on the article, not because of any illegal action. The NCEA results of Ruamata kura are as good or better than other Rotorua secondary schools. The kura is clearly not wasting taxpayer money. Kathy Dewes has been doing an outstanding job as Principal for over 20 years. People who protest are simply revealing their own prejudice.

Maori are not indigenous to NZ and never will be!!

Posted on 28-12-2016 18:33 | By ROCCO

@R.Bell- for the record Cathy Dewes originally obtained a degree in maori from Victoria University and was given an honorary doctorate by Waikato University in 2011 not as you infer an honorable degree (doctorate).Most people who receive honorary doctorates do not prefix their names with the designation Dr.Your thinking as usual and your unsubstantiated conclusions are muddled to put it politely. In any event this issue is about spending $700k on a school trip most of it paid for by the long suffering Kiwi taxpayers.Lets see what AG has to say about it then.


Posted on 28-12-2016 10:17 | By R. Bell

Cathy Dewes was awarded an honourable degree by Waikato university in recognition of outstanding work in education by Jim Bolger. Whether you like it or not the fact is the Auditor General found no rule or law was broken. No doubt you kellbell are an expert educator and can quantify the value or otherwise of such a venture. After hitch-hiking through 22 countries I can testify to the educational value you dispute. Maori are indigenous to N.Z. GET USED TO IT. Robin Bell.

The honourable doctor,

Posted on 28-12-2016 08:33 | By R. Bell

Catherine Dewes has been mercilessly attacked in the usual race based way. A lady who is at the vanguard of Maori education. Highly respected and awarded,who worked unpaid for years in order to establish positive learning procedures for her people,people whose self esteem and confidence was the main cause of poor educational outcomes. Accused in these columns of a "misuse of public funds" of being pigs with "snouts in the trough"of being a "liar and a thief" of having a "sense of entitlement" You should all be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. She has broken no rule, no law and the level of management she and her Trustees achieve is exemplary. Robin Bell.

Unbelieveable baloney

Posted on 27-12-2016 20:49 | By kellbell

Now you can see why Robin Bell's regular little mythical diatribes are completely unreliable and why no notice should be taken of anything he floats.All other commentators believe there is a serious issue here so produce the accounts and lets see the full picture.It is stretching the imagination to ask one to think this fundraising has been going on for 10years which means all but the current pupils will receive no benefit at all.As for visiting the home of their ancestors that location is a guesstimate too but it at least it shows everyone accepts maori are not indigenous to NZ. Incidentally the principal of the school was shown as Cathy Dewes not Dr. Dews.The report from the Auditor General will be of interest to taxpayers on the question of Govt. funds used on this escapade.Reeks of a sense of entitlement as usual!!

Crash test dummies,

Posted on 26-12-2016 15:43 | By R. Bell

are notorious for bashing their heads against block walls. Dr Dews has stated clearly that the 38000 mentioned is one years accumulation. Equally your protestation of theft is clearly incorrect. When you decide to research this properly you will see that the whole school benefited, all the pupils all the teachers and care givers. therefore it follows that if your accusation of theft is correct,then all must be charged,including the 200 children. Whilst your at it prepare charges for all sports, cultural exchange students, the National Orchestra, The All Blacks, Olympic athletes,in fact any who receive gov't assistance. I'v told you before you must wear your crash hat. Robin Bell.

Refund $5?

Posted on 26-12-2016 13:03 | By Crash test dummies

Actually Robin, the real issue is that the funds held by a school are public monies (all) the funds are not there to squander by a few. If it took 10 years to accumulate then how come Dewes is having a lot of trouble bridging the gap between the $30,000 odd "said" to be raised and get to the cost to travel of $700,000 odd. In case you have not noticed there is indeed a gap, it is large and is so then serious. Again I say, there is no justification for this utter arrogant and extravagant spend up. I can only see it as being VERY wasteful of public money. When you take what is not personally yours and spending it that is called theft.

Far too many handouts for rolling your ares already.

Posted on 25-12-2016 14:05 | By NotNat

"However, a proportion of the funds did come from the government, although the school would not specify how much".....I wonder why...Considering the huge population of Maori who are starving.....and homeless...(or who say they are for MORE handouts). I'll never understand their 'way of thinking' or sorry their 'sense of entitlement' Maybe ill ask the government to 'partially' fund my trip to learn about the world I also live in.....Yea right.

Oh! woe is me morepork,

Posted on 24-12-2016 15:43 | By R. Bell

"snouts in the trough indeed." Come on man! This school worked and saved for ten yrs. Three "watchdogs' PROTECTED YOUR INTERESTS, as little as they are. Don't worry yourself about race relations, those of us in the real world are doing just fine, thanks for asking. All schools have the same options, I doubt they have the stamina though. Happy xmas. Robin Bell.

This is deplorable and outrageous.

Posted on 24-12-2016 11:46 | By morepork

what does it do for race relations? It sets them back... When will everybody learn that "snouts in the trough" is not a vision for the future of our country? For progress to be made there has to be a level playing field with no one group being favoured over others. Taxpayers have a right to know where their money goes and boondoggles like this should not be on the agenda. If an MP did it there would be repercussions; why should a school get away with it? This becomes acceptable only when EVERY SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY is able to do it. Until then it is completely out of order.

How to marginalize,

Posted on 24-12-2016 07:30 | By R. Bell

in one easy lesson. Take a sensational headline, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Raumata spent 700K ON A TRIP TO Hawaii of which ONLY 38K came from those attending. Completely ignore the FACT that the 38K came from 1 yrs contribution by volunteers and fund raisers,in a project that ran for 10 yrs. Completely ignore the fact that the auditor general found only that it was unusual. A little rough math,38K per annum over 10 yrs= 380K + ACCUMULATED interest, we're almost two thirds there folks. 300K to go. Who knows, worst case from your point of view, tax money. So, 30 K per annum divided by every tax payer over ten yrs = the G.S.T. on an ice block once a year. How selfish can you get? Robin Bell.

Heard it All before,

Posted on 23-12-2016 17:31 | By R. Bell

The school saved for 10 yrs, they are entitled to spend it anyway they wish.If an amount of govn't money helped so be it. Tell you what you lot,give me a yell and I'll refund your pathetic contributions,$5 should cover it. Robin Bell.

Thats nothing.......

Posted on 23-12-2016 13:54 | By Smilarkie

Seems to be the norm for Principles to do this. I have heard of a primary school in Papamoa, where the Principle thinks its ok to travel the world, every year. No students have ever traveled. Somehow the Principle manages to convince the board to pay for it all. Total waste of taxpayers money for this person to see the world. They have been on overseas trips every year just to better themselves. Surly this type of spending is not acceptable. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, on one person, and what do the kids get out of it, nothing. Absolutly nothing, except having to fundraise for other school projects because the Principle has spent all the schools money. SHAME on them.

@ R Bell

Posted on 23-12-2016 13:48 | By Crash test dummies

Its all wonderful isn't it. How about all of NZ schools take all the kids on a long and expensive overseas trip, or trips. Why not, every kid has a cultural history that they "equally" should be able to wonder the globe exploring all on the taxpayer. To be clear, all schools have volunteers/parents that save costs to schools or fund raise. So this little scam is about as justified as the undies saga at Maori TV, the multiple treaty claims made and a whole lot more. But of course you already know all of that already!


Posted on 23-12-2016 12:20 | By Crash test dummies

I agree with the "cant think" part, otherwise the marginalization factor is all self created from the desire for funds and otherwise all from a nefarious stand point. In all respects the desire has overrun commonsense and fairness, if that then results in a widening gap in views of the public at large compared to a benefiting small group as the public start to become aware of the full extent iof self indulgence and creativity of a few on the gravy train then only those indulging can be held to account for their own actions. In simple terms its called "cause and effect", take a look at the cause before complained of the results.

Robin Bell

Posted on 23-12-2016 12:06 | By TheCameltoeKid

What a load of rubbish. It's all well and good to use other people's money isn't it! The sense of entitlement here is galling. wainot is absolutely correct. I can't believe that this got past the education department when a whole school ups sticks and flies to Hawaii and nobody asked any questions. Skype would have been cheaper. So Robin Bell doesn't like it when people ask questions and raise issues about this? Well tough! If Cathy Dewes can't provide the financial details to the Auditor-General then questions need to be asked and a possible prosecution for the misuse of public funds needs to be looked at. It surely smells fishy to me.


Posted on 23-12-2016 12:05 | By overit

Really Robin, most of us trace our heritage when we do our own OE's paid for by ourselves.

I can't think

Posted on 23-12-2016 11:00 | By R. Bell

of a better way to spend time and money. At a time when Maori are threatened by a new wave of marginalization, teach the young about their proud history. Instead of the CONSTANT, NEGATIVE, offered by wainkot and pamken. Your contribution! = zilch. Robin Bell.


Posted on 23-12-2016 08:41 | By pamken

another case of spending other peoples money, you could have traced your heritage on the internet, which is what you would have done if you had to pay for all of the holiday, and that's all it was a holiday, the government should look into this, after all its the tax payer who funded it.

Show us

Posted on 23-12-2016 08:04 | By waiknot

If you won't be transparent about how you used tax payer money than you deserve the criticism.

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