Secretary to King owes IRD $250,000

By Yvonne Tahana

King Tuheitia. Photo / Greg Bowker
King Tuheitia. Photo / Greg Bowker

A close adviser of the Maori King, Tuheitia, involved in a deal that soured during his mother's reign has bills totalling more than $250,000 with the Inland Revenue Department.

Leaked documents reveal Te Rangihiroa (Rangi) Whakaruru, who also uses Wallace as a last name, owed $165,710 in income tax in December.

Documents show the IRD has been charging interest on unpaid tax back to at least 1999. In a separate bill, the IRD asks for $87,035.16 in child support, a balance that has been accruing at least back to 2004.

Mr Whakaruru works in the office of King Tuheitia. A business card describes him as a "principle [sic] private secretary", "secretary to the Kingitanga" and "keeper of the royal seal". In biographical information he describes himself as a "keen hunter and professional marksmen[sic]/shooter" responsible for notable projects at Auckland Airport.

Many tribal members have never forgiven Mr Whakaruru for a civil case in which an architectural firm named him, business partner Helen D'lala, and the late Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, as co-defendants for nonpayment of nearly $80,000 for work designing a theatre planned as a tourist venture for next to Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia.

At the time, a legal representative for Dame Te Ata said she was not responsible for the deal. The case was later settled out of court.

Mr Whakaruru is related to 4-year-old James Whakaruru, who was beaten to death by his mother's partner in 1999. In 2000 he took part in an anti-domestic violence campaign alongside All Black Michael Jones until he admitted he had beaten his stepdaughter Jamila D'lala and her mother, Helen D'lala, who is also known as Helen Kotua.

Mr Whakaruru did not return phone calls and through a spokesman declined to be interviewed.

However, he is not the only person in King Tuheitia's office who has debts. In December, Baycorp was also chasing money from Morning Glory Trustee Co Ltd. Ms Kotua is a director of the company and is described on business cards as "chief of protocol" in the "Protocol Office of the Maori King". The debt is for $3339.66.

Another letter threatens bankruptcy proceedings against Ms Kotua unless a $7156.73 debt is settled.

Ms Kotua said she no longer worked for the office and declined to comment further, but a spokesman in the King's office said she did work there. He later clarified, saying Ms Kotua helped out at Turangawaewae but was not paid. The office of the King declined to comment.

- NZ Herald

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