Lavena Primary School on the Fijian island of Taveuni was left devastated after Cyclone Winston struck nearly two years ago.
Lavena Primary School on the Fijian island of Taveuni was left devastated after Cyclone Winston struck nearly two years ago. NZ Herald

School keeps relief money raised by children for Fiji

A MAN who helped raise more than $30,000 for Fiji's cyclone victims says he can't believe bosses at an Auckland school did not pass on money raised by children for the relief effort.

An Auditor-General report has revealed a number of schools had questionable spending including overseas travel, a $7000 staff party and gifts for principals, including a ride-on mower and "wellbeing" payments.

Blockhouse Bay Intermediate was highlighted for not passing on $3700 specifically collected for Fiji flood victims and instead used the money for school purposes.

Broadcaster Dev Sachindra Prasad, who was behind a massive fundraising effort for the victims of last year's devastating Cyclone Winston, said he was staggered a school had short-changed the struggling Pacific community at a time of great need.

"When I heard about what Blockhouse Bay Intermediate it was so shocking. I said, 'how could this happen?'

"They asked members of the public to come forward and do something good but to not hand it over it means you've stolen from people.

"I don't expect this sort of behaviour from a school."

Prasad said the cyclone devastated the island nation to the point people were left living in bus shelters.

"They didn't have food and water and the near-$4000 would have helped immensely."

He called for authorities to take action against the school.

This morning the school directed all comment to the Ministry of Education.

Yesterday the ministry said any action it took would depend on what it discovered after speaking to the board of trustees.

The board is chaired by Russell Matthews and members include Ray Gilbert, Melanie Sorby, Rajal Middleton, Catherine Brown and staff representative Charlotte Abbott. The principal Michael Malins is also on the board.

The vast majority of schools received standard audit reports, although 29 were judged to have serious financial difficulties, including Wanganui Collegiate School, St Patrick's College Silverstream and Waiheke Primary School.

Yesterday the Office of the Auditor-General published the results of the 2016 school audits, and provided the same information to the Secretary for Education.

The Office of the Auditor-General's auditors also learned about several "relatively small" incidents of fraud where schools decided not to tell relevant enforcement agencies.


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