More than $400,000 in surplus funds and assets belonging to the former Whangārei Hearing Association will be given to a philanthropic hub that helps charitable and community causes.

An order for distribution of about $420,000 was made by the High Court following an application by liquidators Stephen Bennett and Timothy Hoyle, who wished to wind up the association's affairs that began more than a decade ago.

In October 2007, the court ordered the association should be liquidated as its affairs had been grossly mismanaged.

The fall of the association centred around the dealings of former manager Mark Whitfield, and his wife, Erika Kemp, the president who were at the helm when the 40-year-old organisation was ordered into liquidation after a Crown Law inquiry into the books in 2007.


In the 2007 liquidation hearing's report, the High Court said Kemp had demonstrated "naivete and lack of commercial intelligence''.

The liquidators recently applied for an order to distribute surplus funds and assets to Northland Foundation, a charitable trust, and Deaf Aotearoa Holding.

Part of the funds comprise of a bequest to the association made in the will of Alice O'Keeffe, now valued at $255,000, and was for funding hearing aids.

Justice Kit Toogood said evidence indicated the advance of hearing assistance technology meant confining the use of the funds to supplying hearing aids was unlikely to achieve the original purpose of the bequest.

He said it was clear the foundation would be a responsible repository for the funds and a conduit for achieving the objectives formerly met by the association.

It is proposed funds generated by O'Keeffe's bequest will be separated from the general pool of funds from the association and applied in a manner consistent with, although not identical, to her wishes.

A memorandum of understanding between Deaf Aotearoa and Northland Foundation will result in both a reasonable income return and capital appreciation that will ensure the continued flow of benefits from the bequest.