Ex-employees call on Government investigation of Tongan Health Society in Auckland

Former employees and board members of Auckland's Tongan Health Society charity are calling for a Government investigation into its taxpayer funded operations.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The taxpayer-funded organisation runs three medical clinics, a preschool and social services. Source: 1 NEWS

The society, which runs three medical clinics, a preschool and social services, faces financial problems, legal issues and a controversial CEO.

Langimalie clinic opened in 1998 to humble beginnings. Its name means to have good health.

But documents leaked to 1 NEWS show an organisation losing money, a raft of complaints, legal proceedings and allegations of bullying.

They centre around Māori GP Dr Glen Doherty, who is the CEO, clinical director and a board member.

"There needs to be a restructure at governance level. For him to have such power, he pretty much controls everything," says former social worker Viliami Tu'ipulotu.

Dr Doherty became CEO of the Tongan Health Society in 2012, tasked with turning around a financially strapped organisation.

Last year, despite the society losing money and key financial goals being missed, he demanded an $11,000 bonus.

In an internal letter, he said he wasn't responsible for the loss of contracts, legal expenses and what he called "orchestrated" staff complaints.

He went on to denigrate the very community he is meant to serve, saying medical and preschool fees weren't being paid because Tongans have a sense of entitlement and its part of their culture.

"Dr Glenn Doherty shouldn't be in that position," says former counsellor Tevita Tupou. "A qualified Tongan person should be there to run it but still uphold the requirements of Government and legislation."

The CEO has clashed with a long line of staff, many of whom 1 NEWS has spoken with, and some complaints have resulted in confidential settlements.

Staff and former board members claim when they challenge or question Dr Doherty, they are manouvered out of the organisation.

Dr Doherty didn't want to speak to 1 NEWS, but in a written statement the board of which he is a member said they have every confidence in him.

They said the CEO has been the target of ongoing attacks from some members of the Tongan community and employees.

They blamed the sometimes unpopular changes he introduced to lift the performance of the society and discrimination against him because he is Māori and not Tongan.

The society says it has investigated one recent complaint and found no grounds for bullying.

Financial documents for 2018 show a tough year for the society - the board treasurer warning dramatic changes needed to be implemented.

But this year, they say things have improved, winning new contracts and, according to the board, returning a surplus.

However, more than a dozen complainants who spoke to 1 NEWS - some unidentified - are adamant the organisation needs an independent review.