Maori Council defends election of Awatere Huata

12:31 pm on 5 February 2013

The Maori Council is defending the election former ACT Party MP Donna Awatere Huata, who was jailed in 2005 for defrauding a charitable foundation of $80,000.

Ms Awatere Huata was convicted on charges of using cheques drawn on the bank account of the Pipi Foundation - an organisation set up to run literacy programmes.

Former High Court judge Sir Eddie Durie, who co-chairs the Maori Council, said on Tuesday that people are not elected to handle large sums of money, but for their contribution to community development and Maori policy.

Sir Eddie says Ms Awatere Huata is well-suited to that role and it would need a change to the council's statute to ban members who have a conviction.