24 Aug 2016

Sir Ngatata felt 'wrongly used' in mortgage dealing

9:17 pm on 24 August 2016

A prominent Māori leader has told the High Court he was just a tenant at a Plimmerton house, even though a trust associated with him held a half share in it.

Ngatata Love has has his name suppression lifted.

Sir Ngatata Love says he now realises his "name was used". Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Sir Ngatata Love, the former chairman of iwi organisation Wellington Tenths Trust, is facing alternative charges of fraud and corruption.

The Crown accuses Sir Ngatata of selling his influence to a property developer which subsequently paid $1.5 million into a company run by his partner, Lorraine Skiffington.

Most of that money is said to have been used to pay down a mortgage on the couple's home.

Sir Ngatata told the court today that Ms Skiffington paid the mortgage on the property and he paid for some household matters.

He told Crown prosecutor Grant Burston he did not understand the documents he was signing.

"I trusted Shaan Stevens but I know I was wrong. I signed a lot of documents on that and agreed to help Lorraine Skiffington on the house on a temporary basis.

"I realise my name was used and I didn't give instructions to people, both with Shaan Stevens and Lorraine Skiffington. I can see [that] coming through again and again."

Sir Ngatata said he felt very wrongly used in matters relating to the property and while he accepted he signed documents relating to its purchase, that was just to help Ms Skiffington and he thought her trust would eventually take ownership of the whole property.

"I would never individually put myself in for a mortgage like that, at two weeks off 70. You wouldn't commit yourself to a mortgage like that except on a temporary basis."

Grant Knuckey, a former Tenths trustee, told the court he could not recall Ms Skiffington's company, Pipitea Street Developments Limited, being engaged as a consultant on the property development.

He said Trust meetings were never told that that had occurred and there was also no discussion at trust meetings of the fees which would be paid to that company.

Defence evidence has been completed and both sides will now make closing addresses.