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Auditor-General publishes letters sent to Kaipara District Council

22 August 2012

As a matter of community interest, the Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, has published several letters sent recently to the Kaipara District Council by her Office and the Council's Appointed Auditor, Audit New Zealand.

The letters set out progress on the audits of the Council's 2010/11 annual report and the 2012-22 Long Term Plan (LTP), and the outstanding matters that the Council needs to consider. This includes an update on progress made on the audits by the Appointed Auditor, with the co-operation of Council management, since 13 August.

“Communication between an organisation and its auditor is generally protected by professional obligations of confidentiality. However, as Auditor-General, I also have an overarching statutory discretion to decide what information I should report or disclose publicly,” Mrs Provost said.

She said she decided to publish the letters about the audits to provide some clarity for the community given the uncertainty around the Council's complex financial situation.

The letters mention the Auditor-General's current inquiry into the Council's management of the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme (the Scheme), which was requested by the Council. The inquiry is being carried out by staff in the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) with assistance from external advisors.

Mrs Provost said she is committed to ensuring that the inquiry is independent, rigorous, and delivers a thorough assessment of the facts to provide answers for the community and for her personally, especially on the matter of audit quality.

"We are assessing the Council's planning and decision-making processes, and its financial management, monitoring, and reporting of the Scheme. I am also engaging an independent external auditor, who will be responsible for reviewing the quality of Audit New Zealand files relating to Kaipara District Council audits.”

Audit New Zealand is not involved in the inquiry other than to provide information on its work at the Council in recent years.

"I appreciate that this is a difficult time for some of the community and for the Council. Please be assured that my staff and I are continuing to work to resolve the many complex issues currently arising from the Council audits and our ongoing inquiry. Although these processes take time, I am confident that they will, in the end, provide clarity and certainty for the community.”

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