The taxpayer-owned water company has paid nearly $10,000 for chief executive Brent Manning to attend a week-long training course on Waiheke Island in New Zealand – even though he finishes in the job in March.
To Tatou Vai board member Brian Mason said the company directors’ course was part of negotiations to persuade Manning to stay on beyond December. “It was a package deal to get him to stay and extend his term,” said Mason.
The executive covered his own travel costs. But the Institute of Directors course cost To Tatou Vai at least $8585, perhaps as much as $10,600.
Mason attended the course too, but his fee was paid by the Capital Security Bank, of which he is also chairman.
The course is intended to equip business leaders to become directors. And Manning told Cook Islands News last night that if he were offered a director’s position on the To Tatou Vai board, he would gladly accept.
He personally would love to maintain his involvement with To Tatou Vai, he said, but a place on the board had not been offered to him.
Manning’s trip to New Zealand for the Waiheke course comes as Rarotonga residents face water outages from pipe repair work by contractor Land Holdings Ltd.
Nikao resident Sandrina Kelly said she was concerned when there was no water from her taps and after finally finding To Tatou Vai’s contact number, “nobody was even there to answer the phone”.
Manning joined To Tatou Vai in December last year, on a 12-month contract, which has now been extended to March 2020.
It’s been a rough ride, with heated controversy over whether To Tatou Vai misled the public about its plans to chlorinate the water supply, and reports that the Prime Minister expressed his unhappiness with the handling.
But nonetheless, the board has expressed gratitude to Manning for his expertise and leadership. And in March, his deputy is said to be well-placed to step into the top job, though the company is still advertising the chief executive role.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation chief executive Petero Okotai, who is also a director of To Tatou Vai, said the Corporation would make recommendations to appoint board members. But there had not yet been any discussions about offering Manning a board position.