Artist Mika X and his associated companies were awarded more than $100,000 from a government agency while he was investigated and charged for trying to sabotage a court case against a prominent businessman.
While the actor and one-time political hopeful is now convicted, the money granted directly to him and the foundation in his name will not be returned to Creative New Zealand, which says it was unaware of the allegations.
Mika, previously known as Mika Haka, was publicly revealed last month as the entertainer who assisted a rich-lister's efforts to stop the first of three indecent assault complainants from giving evidence in court.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the victim before being sentenced to 11 months' home detention.
But while on bail and accused of imprisonable crimes, Mika personally received money from Creative NZ last year, while the Mika Haka Foundation Charitable Trust was also awarded a $49,550 grant.
The foundation was started to work in schools and the community to help young people through physical culture and the performing arts. At his sentencing, the court heard he will stand down from the foundation, which will also change its name.
The nearly $50,000 awarded to the foundation was for the research and development of new work titled Ātārangi (response during Covid-19 lockdown). It came from Creative NZ's Arts Continuity Grant, which supports short-term arts projects, or the stage of a project, which can be delivered within an evolving Covid-19 environment.
Some 637 grants totalling $16,037,185 have been offered to help projects by Kiwi artists and practitioners, according to Creative NZ's website.
Mika, who has performed for Prince Charles and at several Edinburgh Festivals, also personally received $4220 through Creative NZ's Covid-19 Emergency Response Package last year.
But a spokesperson for Creative NZ, a Crown entity governed by the Arts Council, told the Herald the agency was unaware of Mika's charges until his name suppression was lifted last month.
Mika was charged in April 2018 and was under investigation by police from 2017 but maintained suppression until the conclusion of his sentencing.
The spokesperson said Mika's convictions have not affected the status of the Creative NZ grant, which was awarded in May and the project delivered in September 2020.
Responding to a series of questions, the national arts and development agency also said Mika and his associated entities and projects have been awarded thousands more taxpayer dollars after he began his criminal activities.
In June 2017 the Mika Haka Foundation received $4500 through the Quick Response Grants, now known as Arts Grants. The funding came shortly after Mika took part in what has become known as the Gold Coast plot - an elaborate attempt by several people to have one of the businessman's victims recant their police statement.
Creative NZ said it was aware of three other Mika-liked entities to have received funding after Mika became involved in the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Production company Patangaroa Entertainment Limited received $30,400 through Creative NZ's International Presentation Fund in 2018. And Brown Cassette, a music management label supported by the Mika Haka Foundation, received $16,800 through the Arts Continuity Grant last June.
Creative NZ declined to release information about the third associated entity, citing privacy protection sections under the Official Information Act for the individuals involved.
When the Herald attempted to contact Mika this week, a message purporting to be on behalf of the foundation's board said it did not wish to comment, describing the case as a "private issue" unrelated to the foundation. Mika was also said to have resigned several weeks ago and is no longer involved.
Efforts to contact the artist at an address listed on court documents were unsuccessful, while the mikahaka.com website currently said it is "closed for development".
Mika, who appeared in the Oscar-winning film The Piano when known as Neil Mika Gudsell, also won $1000 cash at the New Zealand International Film Festival's (NZIFF) Audience Choice Awards last August.
The Ngā Whanaunga CineMāori Audience Award, decided solely by ticketed audience voting, was for his short film GURL, which is based on iconic transgender Carmen Rupe's life in 1970s New Zealand. Mika, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, received the money personally.
The artist later said he would donate the money to the Mika Haka Foundation to help at-risk LGBTQI+ people.
In response to questions from the Herald, NZIFF also said it was unaware of Mika's charges before, or at the time the award was being made.
"Nor were we aware of this at the time of the film's selection for Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts," a spokeswoman said. NZIFF added it first became aware of Mika's court proceedings when his name suppression was lifted and was identified in news media.
No further awards have been granted to Mika, the foundation or any other projects or entities associated with him, NZIFF confirmed.
Mika's criminal offences included offering a $15,000 cheque to the complainant at an Auckland cafe in April 2017 and his involvement in the Gold Coast plot.
Jurors heard Mika became involved in the conspiracy because of a business deal with the rich-lister. Evidence showed $5000 was transferred from an account associated with the businessman to a company linked with Mika in April 2017.
The cafe meeting was also covertly recorded by the victim and played during the trial.
Mika can be heard telling the young man his best option was to withdraw his police complaint after being assaulted by the rich-lister in October 2016.
"Dissolve it, get rid of it, let's get you started on this career, and let me ascertain some funds from [the businessman] at some point - which won't be hard, I can assure you of that," Mika said.
The Gold Coast effort was a far more complex attempt to have the victim retract their police statement. It involved the use of PR firm Goulter & Associates, run by the controversial and politically-connected Hamish Jevan Goulter, and a meeting with the victim at the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel to offer bribes.
Mika and Goulter had earlier met at downtown Auckland's Sebel Quay West hotel, where the entertainer first told the consultant of a benefactor who needed help.
Goulter, who became one of two immunity witnesses for the Crown during the trial, was then introduced to the businessman's manager by Mika at an event for The Opportunities Party (TOP). Mika briefly delved into politics and stood for TOP in Central Auckland during an unsuccessful 2017 election campaign.
Mika was further charged with threatening the victim in September 2017 with a $250,000 defamation lawsuit and arranging for him to be out of New Zealand at the time of the trial. This charge was withdrawn at his sentencing.
The rich-lister, who continues to have interim name suppression, was found guilty of indecently assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016. He was also found guilty of two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice for directing Mika's cafe meeting and the Gold Coast scheme.
David Jones QC, the businessman's lawyer, has said his client will appeal the convictions.
The wealthy Kiwi's manager was also found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice for the Gold Coast mission.
Both men are due to be sentenced in May.