A Maori trust board which received $1.4 million in Government funding last year is under a ministerial investigation.
The Far North's Aupouri Maori Trust Board, which is hundreds of thousands in debt, has ceased its social services programmes and is laying off its 19 members of staff.
Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell said it was only the fifth time a Maori trust board had come under a ministerial investigation and he was taking the situation seriously.
"Is there money missing? I can't say that - I think we need to wait for the investigation to happen.
"What I do understand to be the case, however, is that there is financial debt, and I know that because the bank has basically stopped any credit. Where and how that has all happened will be the subject of the investigation.
"Aupōuri Māori Trust Board has advised that the Board has some financial problems," he said.
"At the request of the Aupōuri Māori Trust Board and in my capacity as the Māori Development Minister, this investigation will ascertain the facts and circumstances that have resulted in the Board's current financial situation.
"I have also asked Te Puni Kōkiri officials to assist the Board with its request for an interim manager. I am committed to having this investigation undertaken in a timely and efficient manner," said Mr Flavell.
Last month, the Ministry of Social Development awarded Project Haere, one of the Trust's trades initiatives, the award for Excellence in Crown and Maori relations.