Exclusive: Māori King's office admits paying for stomach op

The Office of the Māori King has today admitted paying for weight loss surgery from iwi monies.

But Peter Rogers, chairman of the Ururangi Trust which funds Kiingi Tuheitia’s office, denies any wrongdoing.

“Yes, we did pay for it and the allegations that were in the newspapers were aimed at the CEO, Rangi Whakaruruhau and I want to categorically say it was not him,” says Mr Rogers.

Speaking exclusively to Māori Television’s Kawekōrero news show today, Rogers would not reveal who the operation was for.  He says Kiingi Tuheitia did not personally sign off payment for the gastric band procedure.

“No, the king doesn’t sign any expenditure.  The approvals are through the management of the trust and all the financial affairs are overseen by an independent firm of accountants Staples Rodway.  I myself am an accountant independent to the whole tribe,” says Mr Rogers.

An investigation has been launched by the Charities Services into alleged misappropriation at the king’s office which reportedly includes a $46,000 invoice for weight-loss surgery.

Mr Rogers is adamant there had been no misspending.

“I have no worries whatsoever.  I think that there’s always disputes around what’s charitable and what’s not and given the functions that King Tuheitia performs we are absolutely satisfied that all expenditure is charitable,” he says.

The full interview with Mr Rogers as well as Tuariki Delamere, advisor to the Māori King, will screen tonight on Kawekōrero, Māori Television at 7pm.