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Trust prefers to meet behind closed doors

What the Times-Age had anticipated would be a fiery public meeting of the Masterton Community Trust [MCT] – which holds 94.26 per cent of the shares of community housing provider Trust House – proved to be a damp squib yesterday.

Trust House has been a magnet for controversy in recent weeks, after its announcement that 478 of its tenants would face an average rent increase of about 60 per cent from April. Following coverage of this decision, the housing provider put the signalled increases for 189 tenants on indefinite hold after discovering they were not receiving government help for their accommodation costs.

Trust House confirmed yesterday that chief executive Charles Kaka had resigned, effective immediately, after two-and-a-half years in the job before the 3pm meeting began.

MCT president Karl Taucher informed the four members of the public in attendance that the meeting was actually a private one and they’d need to leave after any public business was concluded.

That business proved to be brief, comprising the adoption of the previous meeting’s minutes and an acknowledgement of the service of Kaka, whom Taucher said had “done a fantastic job in promoting the company.”

Several questions from Masterton District councillor and former MCT trustee Brent Goodwin – including about what he said appeared to have been an 85 per cent increase in Trust House’s operational expenses in the past four years – were effectively kicked to touch on the basis that it was not “the appropriate forum”.

MCT trustee and Trust House board chair Mena Antonio declined to answer any questions on the basis that she wasn’t prepared with the relevant information. Goodwin was encouraged to ask Trust House directly, although it was acknowledged the private company was under no obligation to provide answers.

It was confirmed that Kaka’s statement that Trust House had “about $23 million in debt” was in the correct ballpark, with anyone interested in more information encouraged to read its annual report.

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