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See: http://developer.ning.com/docs/ningapi/1.0/overview/introduction.html#what-you-can-do and http://developer.ning.com/docs/ningapi/1.0/overview/introduction.html#what-you-cannot-do which would make it seem like what they're wanting to do may not be possible...
The docs at http://developer.ning.com/docs/ningapi/1.0/index.html look pretty comprehensive and it seems to have a pretty nice REST API (so you're probably going to need a plugin of some sort to help you with the POST, PUT and DELETE verbs if you do decide that it can provide what you need - I'd suggest the BaseElements plugin from the kind folks at Goya for this...
Had found the documentation and had anticipated a plug.
Agree it looks like they may not be able to update, but should be able to retrieve info. They let you crate a developer accout for testing, will have to set one up and have a play, but if anyone has experience and examples.....