14 May 2012

No land block job for Donna Awatere Huata

3:06 pm on 14 May 2012

Trustees of a Maori land block in Hawke's Bay have failed in their attempt to hire convicted fraudster Donna Awatere Huata as a senior executive.

The Maori Land Court has granted an interim injunction, preventing trustees of Tataraakina C Trust from appointing anyone to the role until further ruling from the court.

A past trustee, Henare Ratima, claims the process to appoint Mrs Huata was wrong - arguing that she is an inappropriate candidate for the sensitive role - and that the job was not advertised.

She was convicted in 2005 on charges of using cheques drawn on the bank account of the Pipi Foundation - a charitable organisation set up to run literacy programmes.

The Maori Land Court has heard that employing the former ACT MP would have cost the trust in excess of $200,000 a year - which would include leasing a car and taking on an administrator.

A current trustee, Tania Huata-Kupa, says the allegations are baseless and the majority of trustees backed her appointment.

She says the claims are costing time are money - costs the trustees want to be reimbursed.

The Maori Land Court has ordered the trustees to to present accounts showing fees and expenses over the past five years, pending a further court decision.