A man jailed last year for defrauding the Waitangi National Trust of more than $1.2 million has been denied parole.

Wallace Tamamotu Te Ahuru was sentenced to three years and eight months behind bars after he admitted making 43 payments from the trust, which administers the Treaty Grounds, to his own bank accounts.

The 31-year-old, who was the trust's corporate services manager, spent the money on cosmetic surgery, business-class travel, expensive clothing and a car.

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Te Ahuru became eligible for parole on November 24 after completing one-third of his sentence. When he appeared before the Parole Board earlier in the month, its members were told he had no previous convictions, a low risk of returning to jail, and was a polite and compliant prisoner.

Te Ahuru told the board he had voluntarily returned from Australia to face the authorities and had co-operated with the Serious Fraud Office investigation.

He also told the board he had been under stress at the time of the offending, which occurred between June 2016 and September 2017.

Te Ahuru had grown up in Australia in a devout Christian family and disclosed his sexual orientation to his parents about two years earlier.

His father had accepted the news but his mother did not, leading to estrangement and stress, he said.

A family member had offered to take him in and he intended to study if released.

Wallace Te Ahuru was jailed last year for defrauding the Waitangi National Trust of more than $1.2 million. Photo / Facebook
Wallace Te Ahuru was jailed last year for defrauding the Waitangi National Trust of more than $1.2 million. Photo / Facebook

Earlier this year Te Ahuru was assessed for a medium-intensity rehabilitation programme but was declined because of his low risk. Instead he had completed a short motivational programme and would be re-assessed later for a longer rehabilitation course.

However, given that Te Ahuru's offences had a high degree of premeditation and were committed over a 15-month period, the Parole Board was concerned he had so far undergone only brief rehabilitation.


''For the present we are not satisfied that Mr Te Ahuru no longer poses an undue risk to the safety of the community and parole is declined,'' the panel convenor said.

Te Ahuru is due to be seen again by the parole board in February. His statutory release date is May 3, 2022.

In the years leading up his arrest Te Ahuru used his social media accounts to portray a luxurious lifestyle. On Facebook he called himself Wallace the Tory and posted pictures of himself with a $130,000 BMW and fine wines, playing croquet, and dining with former Prime Minister Sir John Key.

After his sentencing Serious Fraud Office director Julie Read said Te Ahuru had deceived the custodians of one of the most historic places in New Zealand, and had a significant impact on his former colleagues.

''His selfish actions have caused them stress and shame, and they must now work to rebuild the finances and reputation of the trust.''

The case was a reminder for all organisations about the importance of robust internal controls, Read said.