19 Nov 2013

Court order over Waiwhetu Pa funds

6:36 am on 19 November 2013

A member of Taranaki Whanui iwi has been ordered to explain why he should not have to pay back nearly $25,000 to a Maori trust in Lower Hutt.

The Maori Land Court has detailed how Vernon Winitana used trust funds to pay fees to a company he owns.

The case was brought by two members of the body which administers Waiwhetu Pa - a small urupa.

They claimed unauthorised payments were made to Ngamoko Energy, a firm solely owned by Mr Winitana.

According to an investigation carried by auditors KPMG, most of the transactions related to travel costs, consultancy services, expenses and a charge-out rate.

As well, the court says accounts show trust funds were used to buy two freight containers: one was put at the urupa and the other sits at a site where Mr Winitana works.

The court says payments from trust's bank account to Ngamoko Energy were made at the instruction of Mr Winitana.

However, he argues that the KPMG report is unreliable.

The Maori Land Court has given Vernon Winitana 30 days to explain why the funds paid to his company should not be reimbursed to Waiwhetu Pa.