A teacher stole $89,000 from a preschool she worked at for a man she was "besotted" with, she told a disciplinary hearing.
Sayonara Fa'amausili appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal following a conviction at Manukau District Court for theft.
Fa'amausili was found guilty of stealing $89,068 over four years from a preschool where she worked as centre manager.
The theft was discovered following an audit of the centre accounts. she was sentenced at court to 40 hours' community work.
Fa'amausili admitted to the theft and told the tribunal she took it because she was struggling financially.
She said her criminal actions began after she formed a relationship with a man who had drinking and gambling addictions and who persuaded her to take the money to further his lifestyle.
She told the tribunal he had an extraordinary impact on her and because she was so "besotted" with him she was prepared to do anything for him.
Fa'amausili had since left the man, was now employed by another preschool and had managed to pay back over half the money she stole, the tribunal said.
It was satisfied her offending occurred while she was under the influence of another person.
"The respondent impressed us as a fundamentally honest person. We are quite satisfied that this is the explanation for her criminal actions, as was the district court judge who dealt with her in the criminal proceedings," the tribunal said in its decision.
She had a "vanishingly small" chance of reoffending and her crime was "out of character".
Fa'amausili was censured and for a period of three years, was not to be employed or engaged in position as a teacher or early childhood teacher which involved her having responsibility for the management of finances.