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Māori King’s Former Assistant Sentenced For $111,000 Fraud

A former assistant of the Māori King has been sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 300 hours of community work. He was also ordered to make full reparation for stealing approximately $111,000 of charitable funds and lying to the Serious Fraud Office.

Te Rangihiroa Whakaruru (57) committed the offences while he was employed by a charitable trust that provided financial support to the office of the Māori King. He pleaded guilty in December last year to five charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’ under the Crimes Act and one charge of ‘Supplying false or misleading information’ under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The six charges were brought by the SFO in relation to Mr Whakaruru’s role as principal private secretary to Kiingi Tūheitia, the Māori King. The defendant’s role has also been described as general manager or chief executive of Ururangi Trust.

The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Mr Whakaruru abused his position of trust, by deceiving members of the Waikato-Tainui iwi, to steal a significant amount of charitable funds. The defendant’s criminal and selfish actions have compromised the reputation of the Office of the Māori King. The active misleading of the SFO during an investigation is a serious offence and resulted in additional public funds being spent to resolve this case.”

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