29 Apr 2013

Court moves to recover trust money

6:37 am on 29 April 2013

An independent trustee has been appointed to run blocks of customary land in Hawke's Bay after an outsider was authorised to take money from its bank account.

The Maori Land Court has taken action after the withdrawal of funds from Raniera Te Huango, which administers three pieces of whenua.

The court has heard $12,000 was taken by Roberta Karangaroa, who is not a beneficial owner or a trustee.

She was apparently added as a signatory to the trust's accounts after carrying out training with the trustees.

The trustees say Ms Karangaroa persuaded them it would be an advantage to the trust for her to be allowed to withdraw money.

The court says most of the money has been paid back, following a police complaint, but $2500 is still to be recovered.

Judge Harvey says it should be obvious to the trustees that the situation should never have been allowed to happen.

He has appointed Wilhelm Studer to run the trust for at least a year and has asked the trustees to produce a plan for the recovery of outstanding funds.

Mr Studer has served successfully on larger trusts involved in forestry, equities, commercial property, cropping and dairy farms.