A Mount Maunganui woman who stole almost $103,000 from her employer, used some of the money to help fund a week-long trip to Australia with her children.

The trip included visits to a wildlife sanctuary and two theme parks on the Gold Coast.

Joanna Francis Cooney, 46, was the office manager at Mount Maunganui-based head office of Physical Education New Zealand, known as PENZ, from May 2015 until November 2016.

PENZ provides research and other similar services to education institutions, mostly secondary schools, throughout New Zealand.


Its clients pay a subscription fee and other fees including a payment to attend an annual conference for which they are invoiced.

In the District Court at Tauranga on Tuesday, Cooney admitted two charges of accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes. She began systematically changing the bank account details for invoice payments from October 2015.

The court heard that she edited PENZ's Xero computer system to change the account details to her young daughter's bank account.

There was evidence of a second alteration on September 13 last year, and the summary of facts stated this was likely to have happened several times during the period of offending.

Between October 20, 2015 and February 2 this year, $102,198. 86 was deposited into Cooney's daughter's bank account which represented 166 illegal deposits.

Cooney then made a large number of transfers into her own account.

Between September 2015 and December 2016 she had a combined income deposits of just under $38,000 from PENZ and Work and Income but made more than $140,000 in withdrawals.

Cooney repaid a total of $26,639.70 into PENZ's account to try to hide the illegal withdrawals.


Her offending was not discovered until late last year but some of the diverted subscription payments continued after her employment was discontinued.

Reparation in the order of $75,559.16 was being sought, the court heard.

Cooney offered no explanation to the police for her offending.

Most of the illegal withdrawals were spent on general day-to-day expenses, such as at supermarkets, petrol stations, and takeaway shops.

Other purchases included withdrawals at liquor stores, bars, cafes, a jeweller, a gym, Sky TV subscription, and a $100 tattoo parlour visit.

Judge Christopher Harding remanded Cooney on bail pending sentencing on November 16 and called for a reparation report and referral for a restorative justice meeting.

How Cooney spent the money

• Daily expenses such as at supermarkets and takeaway shops
• Other purchases including at liquor stores, bars, cafes, a gym and a jeweller
• SKY TV subscription at $10 a week for short time
• A $100 visit to a tattoo parlour
• Expenses in Australia during a week-long trip to Australia, which included visits to Currumbin Wildlife Park, Sea World and Disney World