Almost 100 redundant staff of Mangere's troubled Pacificare rest home are owed $220,000 in unpaid wages because no one will admit to being their employer.

The Guardian Trust, which has been the mortgagee in possession of the rest home since 2007, says the staff were employed by the Mangere East Medical Care Services Trust (MET).

But MET trustee Ian Anderson, who also owns the rest home's $10 million land and buildings which he operated for 21 years under the name "Culverden", says the employer was the Guardian Trust.

Rohini Chand, the employee who has handled the wage bill for the rest home's various owners since 2004, joined other redundant workers in a protest outside the building yesterday.

"None of the bosses are here. They have gone into hiding," she said.

The bizarre standoff is the latest twist in a troubled history which has dogged the facility since Mr Anderson opened a large new hospital on the Massey Rd side of the site in 2000.

The Ministry of Health ordered its closure in 2006 after an audit found it failed on 101 counts, and the Counties-Manukau District Health Board (DHB) issued another closure order late last year because of what it said were serious ongoing concerns.

Closure was staved off in 2007 by a transfer to the Pacificare Trust, but the DHB stopped referring new patients to it because of continued concerns about low standards in 2007. Guardian Trust then took over as "mortgagee in possession".

Former Manukau City councillor James Papali'i, who was disqualified from the council in 2006 after being convicted for defrauding a waka ama club, said Mr Anderson came to him in 2007 for help to fill a 40-unit retirement village which he still owned at the back of the rest home.

Mr Papali'i witnessed the signatures of all trustees on a new charitable trust called the Mangere Community Hub which was registered in July 2007 and chaired by his sister Siniva Papali'i.

He said the Hub Trust was "used as a vehicle by the management" to pay the rest home and hospital staff from then until last September, when that trust was placed into liquidation owing more than $1 million to Inland Revenue. He did not know why Guardian Trust did not pay the staff directly.

"I don't know - I think because Guardian Trust had to pay a community organisation to dissolve it [distribute wages] to the workers," he said.

He said the Hub Trust was placed into liquidation when trustees found that the Guardian Trust had not been paying income tax for its employees.

The chief executive of Destiny Church's urban Maori authority Te Oranga Ake, George Ngatai, had been brought in to manage the business.

"George Ngatai was the CEO. He was the boss. He was employed by Guardian Trust," Mr Papali'i said.

Mr Ngatai said he was a "consultant" to Guardian Trust at Pacificare from October 2008 to last June. He said all employment contracts at that time were with the Hub Trust.

Guardian Trust said in a statement yesterday that the MET Trust, formed in 1993 by Mr Anderson, was now responsible for paying wages.

"There was a longstanding arrangement between Pacificare Trust and MET Trust whereby MET provided staffing services. MET employed nurses and other staff deployed at the facility," Guardian Trust said.

But Mr Anderson said MET was not the employer.

"The staff on site made use of the bank account that had the name of this trust on it, but the provider has always been Guardian Trust," he said.

Mrs Chand said jobs of the 94 staff ended on Friday when the last patient moved out.