Morgan was raised by his grandparents at Waahi Pa on the banks of the Waikato river. His iwi (tribe) is Tainui. Morgan was educated at St. Stephen's and Huntly Colleges, then trained as a teacher. He returned to Huntly College where he became Head of Maori Studies.
1984 - Journalist, TVNZ
1988 - Journalist, TV3 News
1992 - Tainui "Man of the Year"
1994 - Manager Tainui Health Authority: salary $60,000pa.
Tuku speaks fluent Maori and believes strongly in the preservation of Maori culture and identity. Now (in 1998) 39 years old, he is married with three children and lives in West Auckland next door to his brother-in-law, fellow MP and Maori Affairs minister,Tau Henare.
THEN SHIT STARTS TO HAPPEN..
May 96 - ATN begins transmission
Aotearoa Television Network, an experimental Maori television station broadcasting to the Auckland area goes to air with $8,000,000 of taxpayer funding, around $500 per viewer. The reported peak evening audience is 7-16,000 people.
( AGB-McNair surveys)
One of the four founding directors of ATN, Morgan is later reported to have received over $18,000 each month in Director's fees.
July 96 - Vote Tuku
Tuku Morgan stands for parliament as the New Zealand First Te Tai Hauauru candidate. The party's main election platforms are integrity, honesty and accountability. Before the election Morgan claims he will provide a better voice for Maori.
"They want accountability."
August 96 - Goodbye ATN
With the election looming, Tuku resigns his ATN directorship. Or does he? Morgan will later offer varying accounts of his resignation date/s.
September 96 - The boys go shopping
Tuku Morgan and fellow ATN director Morehu McDonald go shopping. Between July and September Morgan spends $8,200 of ATN (taxpayers') money on clothing. $4,000 of this is on September 30th, a month after his "resignation" from ATN.
Sept - Nov 96
During these three months Tuku Morgan receives a total of $56,250 in directors fees from ATN after resigning as a director of that company.
12 October 96 - T.M., M.P.
Tukoroirangi Morgan is elected to parliament in New Zealand's first MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) elections with a majority of 4,961. No party has a clear majority and protracted coalition negotiations begin between the major parties.
16 October 96 - Tuku meets Mickey
Tuku and some members of his family enjoy a trip to London flying business class, staying in expensive hotels and stopping off at Disneyland on the way. The trip is paid for by ATN and costs $11,739.
November 96 - Where does the money go?
ATN applies to Te Mangai Paho (the funding agency for Maori broadcasting) for a further $4m of taxpayer funding.
December 96 - Hey Bro - we are the government!
A coalition deal is agreed between Morgan's NZ First Party and the National Party (the previous government). The deal gives NZ First 9 seats in cabinet and a good deal more power than their 17 (out of a total of 120) parliamentary seats represent.
UPDATE Neil Kirton dumped as Associate Minister of Health - 7 August 97)
27 January 97 - $4m for ATN
The government announces a further $4m of taxpayer funding will be provided to keep ATN broadcasting till the end of June. Half of this will come from the consolidated fund (taxpayers), the balance from New Zealand On Air (taxpayers). This will represent a further subsidy of $250 per ATN viewer (or 44,944 pairs of underpants for Tuku).
31 January 97 - Pump up that price
The first Aotearoa Television scandal breaks. It is reported that the equipment at ATN was bought for $800,000 by a company called Pumanawa, then onsold to ATN for $1,200,000. A weird little agreement between the companies states that this price is to double once ATN receives the expected $4m of additional government funding.
By a strange coincidence, the directors of Pumanawa Holdings were exactly the same people who were directors of ATN. This includes Morgan and McDonald.
4 February 97 - UndieGate
Another ATN scandal is made public. Receipts from Morgan and McDonald's spending spree are made public, as is the revelation that Morgan spent $89 on a pair of underpants. This incident is later referred to by commentators as UndieGate. McDonald defends the spending claiming that the money is an allowance for "on-air" presenters.
Morgan's spending of $4,000 of taxpayers money a month after resigning from ATN arouses public anger. NZ First leader Winston Peters criticises the clothing store for invading Morgan's privacy and attacks the media for their lack of integrity in reporting the story. Cartoonists throughout the country have a field day.
8 February 97 - Here comes the SFO
Following the UndieGate scandal, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) siezes documents from ATN and is examining
"..specific matters concerning the expenditure
of public money."
10 February 97 - $4m goes away
The government announces that the additional $4m funding granted to ATN last month will not now proceed, citing
"serious reservations about the financial management
and controls in place at ATN..."
The station continues to broadcast with mainly young and predominantly Maori staff working for free.
12 February 97 - If in doubt, claim it!
Tuku's declared "campaign expenses" are under investigation by the chief electoral officer. In particular a claim for $400 spent on "meat". His leader, Winston Peters defends Morgan.
"He doesn't have to defend himself against
"He clearly did not understand some of the things he was
accounting for did not need accounting at all."
19 February 97 - A lower profile
Tuku withdraws his nomination to become chair of the Maori Affairs select committee, saying:
"Events which took place before I became an MP could
detract from the committee's work if I was chairman."
25 February 97 - A quotable quote
Tuku's maiden speech in parliament includes the now famous line,
"I won't get caught with my pants down again."
29 April 97 - Who called me Goofy?
Oops - pants down time! Wellington's Dominion newspaper produces evidence of Morgan's Disneyland trip. Tuku would rather not talk about it.
"Those issues that have touched my integrity are
subject to sub judice.."
29 April 97 - Oops! More $$$
The Dominion produces further documents, this time showing that Morgan received $56,000 of ATN funds after resigning his directorship of that company. Winston Peters again leaps to Morgan's defense describing the story as
"..a long article in which every allegation and innuendo
Morgan later claims that these were payments for a continuing role as "Head of Sport" at ATN. It is unclear how many hours of sport the channel produced.
Early May 97 - Tau fights back
NZ First is getting rattled by what they see as the media's continued harassment of their mate Morgan. Maori Affairs minister Tau Henare (Tuku's brother-in-law) threatens journalists on a couple of occasions. This includes an alleged claim that he'd cut TV3's NZ On Air (taxpayer) funding.
7 May 97 - What rugs?
Labour MP Trevor Mallard makes claims in parliament about Morgan's alleged purchase of "Turkish rugs". No further details are forthcoming.
12 May 97 - Credibility check
A Colmar-Brunton poll reveals that 79% of the country think that Tuku should resign. Only 9% think he should stay. 12% apparently haven't got a clue.
(Margin of error: +/- 3.2%)
4 June 97 - It'll cost you!
Chris Reid, a lawyer acting for Tuku Morgan approaches various news
organisations offering an exclusive interview with his client in return for a sum not unadjacent to $20,000.
NZ First leader, Winston Peters states categorically that Tuku Morgan has never heard of Chris Reid.
"Mr Morgan does not have a lawyer called Mr Reid
and has not given any instructions to a lawyer
called Mr Reid.."
5 June 97 - Now I remember..
Another day - another down trou! This morning Morgan remembers that he in fact does have a lawyer called Reid, and that he did instruct Reid to seek payment for an exclusive interview. Peters is forced to retract his earlier statement, admit that he was mislead by Morgan and apologises to the media. Morgan says his future is in his leader's hands.
10 June 97 - Sorry for what?
Tuku apologises to the Prime Minister and to his fellow NZ First MPs for trying to sell the rights to an exclusive interview. He does not apologise to the country. Morgan keeps his job and the coalition government hangs onto its one seat majority.
July 97 - ATN goes down
ATN loses it's licence to transmit and goes off air.
4 July 97 - The Tuku Diaries
Tuku reports that his diary has been stolen from parliament. Photocopies of the juicier bits allegedly relating to ATN are offered to news organisations. The diplomatic protection squad investigates.
10 July 97 - The SFO reports
The Serious Fraud Office report is released. It finds "no evidence of criminal conduct." But Tuku is not out of the woods yet. The report goes on to say
"Within Aotearoa there were what can only be described as lax arrangements for the expenditure of company funds."
"The level of spending by Mr Morgan and Mr McDonald on personal clothing was clearly disproportionate to that of the other executive producers. However because there was no obligation to account for expenditure, either to Aotearoa or to Te Mangai Paho, in the most general terms I cannot say it was criminal."
The SFO also investigated Morgan's shareholding in ATN. Had he really given up his shares or merely transfered them to a third party to hold on his behalf? The SFO found draft deeds of trust in ATN computer records supporting the second theory. Dated September 96, these documents show that Derek Burns (financial advisor to ATN) was holding ATN and Pumanawa shares on Morgan's behalf.
Morgan's statement that he destroyed the original documents is disputed by two ATN directors, Puhi Rangiaho and Tawini Rangihau. The SFO decides that
"This office has been unable to resolve that conflict."
Did Tuku break any laws?
Not according to the Serious Fraud Office which completed it's investigation of the man in July 1997. Whilst the SFO report stated that they had found "no evidence of criminal conduct" they cited serious deficiencies in ATN bookkeeping methods.
Why didn't Tuku fall on his sword?
That's a good question. In most civilised countries, people in public positions normally resign soon after their first scandal. In contemporary New Zealand this doesn't appear to be the case. The fact that Tuku's New Zealand First party was holding power with a slender majority in coalition with the National Party may have had something to do with it.
Where to from here?
Who knows. Tuku's antics, whilst not illegal, certainly raised a number of ethical issues and eroded public confidence in the coalition government. It is ironic that whilst Morgan retained an awful lot of mana amongst his own people, he has probably done more to undermine their cause than any single Maori in recent history.
Tuku's ability to survive so many scandals whilst retaining a high public position can probably be attributed more to the coalition government's fragile majority than to the man's mana. It is easy to interpret his party's defense of the man as a bit of a boys' club where bullying and intimidation hold more value than ethics; to view mana as an excuse for cultural arrogance.
Tuku's various indiscretions inspired a noticeable backlash amongst white, middle class New Zealanders. Whether guilty of questionable ethics or naive errors of judgment, Morgan's continued presence in parliament was seen by many as an example of reverse racism. It is likely that history will record Tuku Morgan's contribution to his country as a disservice to Maoridom.
Postscript: 27 Nov 1999
Tuku managed to keep his head down for the rest of his term in parliament. No scandals erupted involving goats or boy scouts and he retained his position in the coalition government. During this term he helped his brother in law to form the Mauri Pacific Party which received a mere 0.2% of the party vote in the 1999 General Election.
Things didn't go too well for Morgan in his own Te Tai Hauauru electorate, either. He only received 1309 votes while the Labour candidate Nanaia Mahuta cruised into parliament with a 5,000 majority (6541). Morgan was out of politics (for the time being). Had voters finally decided that honesty, integrity and accountability are more than mere election promises?
There's hope for democracy yet. ;-)
These pages are intended to provide genuine background on Tuku Morgan M.P. and details contained herein are derived primarily from information in the public domain. Any inaccuracies reported to the author will be corrected.
The "Ask Tuku" page is intended as humour and shouldn't be taken too seriously. Any commentary is my personal opinion as permitted in a democracy and does not reflect the opinions of my employers, my wife, children, cat, creditors or Tamagotchi. And if you're Peter Williams Q.C. (Tuku's lawyer) - don't bother, I'm poor.