29 Aug 2012

'Catty' relationship with Crown agent - trust

12:53 pm on 29 August 2012

Allegations that a Crown agent and a senior Maori welfare manager had a personal dislike for each other and a "catty, bitchy" relationship have been made in the High Court at Auckland.

The court was told on Tuesday that a Maori welfare provider lost a Government contract after a poor assessment by a Crown agent who was a funding and planning manager without a background in social work.

Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust has taken a case against the Ministry of Social Development over the loss of its $1.4 million Family Start programme - which delivers support to at-risk families with babies.

Trust executives claim a ministry assessment of the programme for vulnerable families with babies was incorrect and misleading but led to the Crown contract being cut.

Trust chief executive John Tamihere says the evidence about a personality clash came as a surprise.

He says he wasn't aware of the claim until it came up in court, but he says the relationship appeared catty, bitchy and a bit silly.

The Crown is yet to spell out what precisely why the contract was axed.

But the trust says it rejects any notion or allegation that its service has placed any child in an unsafe position.