An employee at a Northland school has admitted helping herself to more than $30,000 of school funds over a 15-month period.

The former employee pleaded guilty to 18 charges in the Kaikohe District Court on Tuesday. Thirteen charges are for "using a document for pecuniary advantage" - in this case, writing out cheques to herself from a school bank account - and five are for theft by a person in a special relationship.

Judge Greg Davis declined her application for name suppression but lawyer Casey Murray said her client would appeal that decision. That means her name - and the name of the school because that could identify her - cannot be published in the meantime.

Interim name suppression will lapse if she has not lodged an appeal in the High Court by 5pm today.


Judge Davis said the former school employee had been a signatory to a school cheque account and also received cash payments.

Her offending came to light when an audit of the school's finances by a major accounting firm revealed "multiple fraudulent transactions".

Court documents show the cheques ranged from just over $800 to almost $3000, adding up to $21,023.83. Four of the theft charges relate to cash totalling $5867.79 while the fifth relates to fuel worth $4088.13. The total value of cheques, cash and fuel is just under $31,000.

Ms Murray said publishing her client's name would cause extreme hardship to her family. She also needed time to inform wider family and the community groups she was involved with.

Judge Davis, however, said no evidence had been presented to support the claim of extreme hardship and, given that the charges were laid on March 1, she had had time enough to inform people of her situation. The arguments for granting suppression were not sufficient to outweigh the principle of open justice, he said.

The application for suppression was opposed by police and the Advocate.

Ms Murray said her client was deeply ashamed and remorseful, and was prepared to take part in restorative justice. She is due to be sentenced on June 23.