Part 5: Administration and monitoring of the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund

Inquiry into the Ministry of Education's monitoring of scholarships administered by the Māori Education Trust.


This scholarship was established by the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Act 1945 (the Act). The Act establishes a board to administer the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund (the Fund), and provides for the Māori Trustee to hold money belonging to the Fund in a separate account. The Fund is a ‘public entity’ under the Public Audit Act 2001 and is audited by the Auditor-General.

According to section 3 of the Act, scholarships are to be awarded to Māori students:

  • who are doing tertiary study;
  • whose study promotes the study and encourages the maintenance of the Māori language, history, tradition and culture;
  • based on academic merit; and
  • for a term of 3 years, except in the cases of doctors’ and veterinarians’ studies where the term is 4 years.

Postgraduate scholarships are to be awarded to Māori graduate students with:

  • a record of academic excellence; and
  • a proven ability to complete postgraduate studies in New Zealand or overseas.

A capital fund of about $555,000 earns interest income. There is also an annual grant from Vote: Education of $54,000. In addition, Vote: Education includes $29,250 each year to be applied towards administration of the Fund.

The Ministry has entered into a contract (the scholarships contract) with the Trust to provide administration services, including:

  • provision of secretarial services to the Ngārimu Fund Board (the Board);
  • administration of new and renewed scholarships; and
  • organisation and administration of an annual essay competition.

The Act enables the Board to allocate the income of the Fund through: scholarship, subsidy, special grant, or bursary for the education of any Māori, or for the purpose of promoting the study and encouraging the maintenance of the Māori language and of Māori history, tradition and culture.

Only 15 new scholarships are awarded in any year. There are many applications for a limited pool of scholarship funding. From time to time, the Board has established criteria to be applied in determining eligibility.

Priority has been given to tertiary students in areas of study that promote and encourage Māori language and history. The Trust has directed students with high academic achievement in other areas of study to other scholarships administered by the Trust. At the Annual General Meeting on 27 June 2002, the Board decided to highlight the existing criteria, placing high priority on whakapapa and tipuna (ancestry and genealogical links).

Process followed by the Māori Education Trust

Applications for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships close in February each year. The Trust is responsible for collecting applications and reviewing them against the eligibility criteria contained in section 3 of the Act.

In recent years, the eligibility criteria have been programmed into the scholarship database developed by the Trust. Once applications have been screened for eligibility, a schedule of recommended scholarships is produced from the database and submitted to the Board for review and approval.

The Board, or a standing committee of the Board, is required to approve scholarships.

The Trust is required by the contract to report to the Ministry, as part of the milestone reporting, against performance measures designed to assess the quality of the Trust’s service in administering the Fund’s scholarship process.

Our findings and conclusions

Due to logistical difficulties, the Board had approved some scholarships after students had received initial payments. This is an unsatisfactory situation. The process supporting the award of these scholarships needs to ensure that the Board approves all scholarship recipients before any payments are made.

Recommendation 4: We recommend that the Ministry ensure that the Board of the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund approves the list of eligible applicants before the Trust makes any scholarship payments.

Payment errors

The Auditor-General’s management report, prepared in connection with the audit of the Fund’s financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2002, identified that 3 ineligible students had received Ngārimu scholarships. The first 2 ineligible students were each paid $5,000. The Trust has recognised the administrative errors and reimbursed the Fund.

The third student, an existing scholarship holder, submitted a new application that the Trust approved. He had already been awarded $5,000 for the 2003 year when the Trust awarded him $5,000, again for the 2003 academic year, for the new approved application. The Trust has agreed that the student may retain the funds, and for no payment to be made to him in 2004 (the final year of his eligibility).

Practices inconsistent with the Act

The Trust made payments directly to the students, and sought reimbursement from the Fund account, before the Board formally approved the students as scholarship recipients. While administratively efficient, this practice is not consistent with the requirements of the Act.

When the Board did formally approve the students as scholarship recipients, it did not pass a specific resolution to authorise the Trust’s reimbursement from the Fund account.

To address this problem, the Trust is considering options for changing the timing of the Board’s Annual General Meeting, and the possibility of closing applications for these scholarships before February each year.

Recommendation 5: We recommend that the Ministry ensure that any payments to Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship recipients are made in a manner consistent with the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Act 1945.
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