Inquiry Into The University Of Auckland’s Decision To Purchase A House In Parnell

Press Release – Office of the Auditor-General

In November 2019, the University of Auckland purchased a house in Parnell in Auckland. The University said the house would be used for accommodation by the Vice-Chancellor, business-related operations, and functions. The house cost about $5 million, and the University entered into a tenancy agreement with the incoming Vice-Chancellor from the start of her five-year term of employment.

We were interested in this matter because it seemed an unusual purchase for the University to make. It raised questions about the University’s use of public resources and how it manages sensitive expenditure. The focus of our work was on the University’s actions and decision-making processes.

The University did not follow its policy on sensitive expenditure nor its processes for approving capital expenditure. It also has been unable to demonstrate that it has met key principles of managing sensitive expenditure well. For example, the University has not been able to show a justifiable business purpose for purchasing the house or that the expenditure was moderate and conservative.

Where sensitive expenditure is concerned, we expect all public organisations to consider each situation carefully to ensure that they can justify the expenditure and are reasonably able to do so. To do that, we encourage every public organisation to consider our good practice guide Controlling sensitive expenditure: Guide for public organisations.

We’ve published our report Inquiry into the University of Auckland’s decision to purchase a house in Parnell.

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