The Office of the Māori King has admitted to paying for weight-loss surgery from iwi monies, but refuse to reveal who the operation was for.
A Charities Services investigation into alleged misappropriation at the office of the Māori King was concentrating on a mysterious $46,000 invoice for weight-loss surgery, the Herald reported on Sunday.
Speaking on Maori TV's Kawekōrero, Peter Rogers, chairman of the Ururangi Trust which funds Kiingi Tuheitia's office, denied any wrongdoing.
"Yes, we did pay for it and the allegations that were in the newspapers were aimed at the CEO, Rangi Whakaruruhau and I want to categorically say it was not him," he said.
Rogers did not reveal who the operation was for.
"The medical care of an individual is their business. It's not your business, it's not my business ... Trustees to my knowledge are very comfortable with what happened."
He said the name of the person had been disclosed to the management group of the tribe.
"My advice to the king, is whoever that person is and I don't know for sure, but whoever that person is, if they wish to come forward and identify themselves then that's their business."
Tuariki Delamere, advisor to the Māori King and on the programme with Rogers, said the person's name was "not for public dissemination out there, for the Herald or anyone else".
"The person who was treated, it's private to them. And I find it disgusting that the New Zealand Herald are trying to get someone to disclose their private medical details."
Rogers said they had supplied all their financial information to Charities Services, and had initial discussions with them that were "investigation type questions".
He said he'd been advised that more specific questions from them would follow.
Tuheitia did not personally sign off the payment for the expensive gastric band procedure, he said.
"No, the king doesn't sign any expenditure. The approvals are through the management of the trust and all the financial affairs are overseen by an independent firm of accountants Staples Rodway. I myself am an accountant independent to the whole tribe."
Rogers said he had "no worries whatsoever".
"I think that there's always disputes around what's charitable and what's not and given the functions that King Tuheitia performs we are absolutely satisfied that all expenditure is charitable."
The procedure done privately at Auckland's MercyAscot hospital was paid for out of a Tainui Group Holdings fund dedicated to the healthcare of King Tūheitia Paki.
The Herald reviewed other invoices issued by the same hospital for the same gastric band procedure, and the September 2016 invoice in question differs from others in omitting details that would identify the patient.
A spokesman for Internal Affairs, which oversees the Charities Services, said as the investigation was ongoing the department was limited in its ability to comment.
"The Department is making good progress on what is a complex case involving the investigation of an individual associated with the trust," the spokesman said.