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Student association investigation may take months

Aug 16th, 2010 | By | Category: News

By Owen Winter, Nicole Bennik, Kate Melzer, Amie Hickland, Sam Guzzo, Greg Ford

The inquiry into the Whitireia Independent Students Association may take months to complete, police say.

The Porirua Criminal Investigation Bureau received a complaint last week from a number of students and a member of the association executive about funds missing from the association accounts.

Police are working with auditors, accountants and the association to investigate the full extent of the situation.

Detective Terry Laws says: “We are not pointing the finger at anyone at this stage.”

Inram Kamal, director of Accountants First, says an audit revealed more than $750,000 had been used for unofficial purposes.

He calls it one of the most difficult audits he has been involved with.

NewsWire requested a copy of the audit, but was told by Madeline Samuel-Pesefea, office administrator at the students’ association, that there was only one copy, which acting president Tim Manu had given to a Dominion Post reporter.

Chief executive Don Campbell said from Auckland today he would be providing a copy in the morning.

He says: “We want to be transparent and students have the right to see it.”

The Whitireia Independent Students’ Association has been acting outside the collective of New Zealand student bodies.

New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations  co-president David Do says the Whitireia association withdrew from the national body two years ago.

“Our impression was that they had become quite isolated from the other associations by not being part of the NZUSA.”

Loretta Ryder, association president last year and earlier this year, left the position recently.

She was unavailable for comment today.

Former vice-president Eric Tai Te Karu stood down in April.

Mr Te Karu appears on the Sensible Sentencing Trust website.

He was sentenced in February, 2007, to eight months’ imprisonment for stalking a 15-year-old Turangi boy over four months in September, 2006.

Asked whether police checks were performed before appointments were made, association acting president Tim Manu said the association was an equal employment employer.

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