Police have declined to release details about the phone call to the nation's top cop.
A 53-year-old man was asking for the chance to turn his life around, the judge said.
Three rows of supporters were seated in the public gallery to listen to the appeal.
Stephen Henare used the Trust money to fund his gambling and expensive luxuries.
Police say they do not want to have to arrest people.
Fuel was fast running out as the Eagle helicopter searched for the man.
The region northeast of New Zealand has been struck with two earthquakes today.
Mum grateful for prayers: "They didn't know if he was going to open his eyes."
Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
"I felt like if they hadn't come to the house that day I probably would have died."
"We trust the police."