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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

Allegations of misuse of 2023 Census data

Stats NZ has asked an independent external party to investigate allegations of misuse of census data collected for the 2023 Census. Last year Stats NZ partnered with Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to lift low response rates from Māori in Auckland. The collection operations with non-responding and partial-responding Māori households were led by Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki. As part of this, Whānau Ora worked with Manurewa Marae.

In the first week of June Stats NZ received allegations relating to the inappropriate use of census data collected at Manurewa Marae. “We are taking these allegations very seriously,” Government Statistician and Stats NZ Chief Executive Mark Sowden said. “It is paramount that the information collected via census forms or any Stats NZ survey is kept private, secure, and confidential, and that it is only used for the purposes in which it is collected.”

There are also calls for a Formal Inquiry into John Tamihere's Political/Charity Empire. John is the President of Te Pati Māori, as well as COO of BOTH the Waipareira trust

Investigations and public scrutiny of Te Pāti Māori and John Tamihere’s various electoral campaigns and state contracts are finally starting to happen. Inquiries at varying levels now involve the Electoral Commission, the Police, Statistics New Zealand, and Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora. The Ministry of Social Development, Charity Services, and the Privacy Commissioner have also been involved.

The Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) is actually the trading name for Te Pou Matakana Ltd. WOCA distributes government/Whanau Ora funding to various charities including the Waipareira Trust. But the Trust and WOCA are related parties. The Waipareira Trust is a minority shareholder in WOCA and shares the same CEO – John Tamihere. JT’s wife, Awerangi Tamihere is also the chief operating officer of both the Waipareira Trust and WOCA. Last year, as well as being the CEO of Manurewa Marae, Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp was also a director of WOCA – only resigning from the board on 31 December 2023.

The latest financial accounts for the Waipareira Trust show that WOCA provided Waipareira Trust with $16.8m of government commissioning funding for the financial year ending 30 June 2022 and that Waipareira Trust is charging an annual $6m management fee payable by WOCA. An eye-watering fee usually only seen in private equity businesses.

There are growing calls for a more thorough, interconnected investigation of the myriad allegations. Questions have been asked about why Charities Services isn’t taking a tougher position against Waipareira and Tamihere. Interestingly, its three person Registration Board, which looks at its most difficult cases, is chaired by Gwendoline Keel, a lawyer who is also the general counsel for Waikato-Tainui and was the recent Labour Party candidate for Port Waikato!

Political commentator David Farrar has also examined the voting booth data, and calculated the margin of difference between Kemp and Henare for the advance and election day votes:

§ Manurewa Marae (advance): +39% in favour of Kemp

§ Manurewa Marae +16%

§ Clendon Community Centre (advance): +6%

§ Pak ’n Save Clendon -6%

§ Pak ’n Save Clendon (advance): -10%

§ Clendon Community Centre -40%

Farrar says that you might normally expect that voting booths in the same suburb would be quite similar, but in this case, there was a huge advantage to Kemp at the Manurewa Marae.

Hence, the details of these interconnected scandals could be consequential. Former Cabinet minister Peeni Henare has confirmed he is considering his options and may complain to the Electoral Commission.


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