EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: SFO raid on Māori King's Office

By Te Ao Māori News

A former advisor to the Māori King says this morning’s SFO raid will have consequences for the Kingitanga and the King himself.

Tukoroirangi Morgan says the involvement of the SFO meant serious allegations had to have been made.

“It’s got nothing to do with the Kingitanga as an organisation. This just happened to be an office looking after the affairs of the King. The Kingitanga is a different kind of situation because Kingitanga belongs to the people. Having said that, consequences, negative or positive, will have an effect on the Kingitanga and the King himself, “said Mr Morgan.

Māori Television broke the news that the SFO had searched the office of Kingi Tuheitia in Hopuhopu, north of Ngāruawāhia, this morning. 

Sources revealed the SFO had removed documents and hard drives belonging to an individual who was under investigation.

This afternoon the Serious Fraud Office confirmed it had executed search warrants in relation to an investigation concerning the Ururangi Trust.  

The Ururangi Trust was set up as a charity to support the functions of King but was investigated by the Charities Service last year after complaints of misspending.  The trust was based at the King’s office and funded from Tainui’s post-settlement assets.

Mr Morgan said if wrongdoing was found, management would need to answer.

“If the fault is with the operation, with management then that’s where the buck should remain.  And I look forward and so does every other tribal member in Waikato because that money belongs to the people.  It doesn’t belong to the office.  It doesn’t belong to individuals.  It actually belongs to the tribe Waikato-Tainui. That money is settlement money,” said Mr Morgan.

Two months ago, troubleshooter Wira Gardiner, was brought in to manage the King’s new company, Kaitiaki Guardians Limited, which oversees financial affairs.

Mr Gardiner told Māori Television today that the Ururangi Trust has now been liquidated.

“I can’t comment any further given that I’m not too sure what the allegations are or where the investigation will go and in time the Serious Fraud Office will conduct their investigations and we’ll know what the outcome will be,” said Mr Gardiner.