Widow claims being ripped off by former Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau asset manager

By Dean Nathan
Kuini Matene

Over six months have passed since Kuini Matene became a widow and lost her car to former asset manager of Te Rōpū Taurima, Saul Roberts, a man she once trusted. 

Kuini Matene was a former employee at Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau, and after fraud allegations surfaced on Native Affairs against Saul Roberts to the sum of tens of thousands of dollars, she has come forward to speak out about this man who, to this day, still has her car.

Confronted with a situation over six months ago which would cost her $10,000 to fix her car, Kuini says she was approached by Roberts saying he was concerned this would be too big a burden for her.

 “It was agreed that he fix the car and I receive another one.  We signed the papers but then in hindsight I rethought the offer and my heart wouldn't settle.  But what could I do at the time?  He took advantage of me, I had just lost my husband.”

Kuini and her dearly departed husband worked for Te Rōpū Taurima o Manukau for over a decade.  The pair were also ministers in the Anglican Church.

The allegations which surfaced on Native Affairs regarding her former employer have rocked her to the core.

“I was enraged and it ate me up inside.  He did that to our mokopuna and to me,” she says.

While she doesn't hold a grudge, she’s calling for the return of her car and that current issues facing the service, created by Māori leaders to serve the physically and mentally impaired, be addressed.

“It took years of sweat and tears, and highs and lows to create Te Rōpū Taurima, and all that work should not be undone by a predator, who preys on the most vulnerable.”

Māori Television has attempted several times to contact Saul Roberts, phoning him and visiting his last known address, to give him the opportunity to reply to these allegations.  He has not responded.