19 May 2014

Money to go back to Lower Hutt trust

6:44 pm on 19 May 2014

A member of Taranaki Whanui iwi has been ordered to pay back nearly $25,000 to a Maori trust in Lower Hutt.

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

The Court said payments received by Vernon Winitanga and his company Ngamoko Energy must be given back to the Waiwhetu Pa No 4 Maori Reservation Trust because they were never properly authorised.

Mr Winitana said money changed hands when a project was launched to clean up the Waiwhetu Stream.

Most of the transactions related to travel costs, consultancy services, a charge-out rate, and two shipping containers.

The case was brought by two members of Waiwhetu Trust, which administers a small urupa called Waiwhetu Pa.

The court noted that while Vernon Winitana acted honestly, his conduct was unreasonable.

It said he put himself in a conflict of interest, made a profit from his position, and failed to fully appreciate the serious breach.

Waiwhetu Stream.

Waiwhetu Stream. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski