Donna Awatere Huata was this afternoon sentenced to two years nine months imprisonment after being convicted on a series of fraud and theft charges. Awatere Huata's husband Wi Huata was sentenced to two years imprisonment for his role in the fraud.
The Huatas were last month found guilty by jury in the Auckland District Court to have stolen from the Pipi Foundation, a Maori trust, that Awatere Huata set up in 1999. The money was supposed to help resource education for under-privileged Maori children. Since its formation, the Pipi Foundation received $840,000.00 in government funding.
The jury found the Huatas were guilty of fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Serious Fraud Office gave evidence that they stole $82,000 from the Pipi Foundation and attempted to cover up the crime by doctoring accounts and organising people to give false testimony to investigators.
Wi Huata's custodial sentence was deferred for two weeks due to an application by Huata for home detention.