A rowing association failed to expel a disgraced policeman after he was convicted of theft, with the officer going on to allegedly take $4500 from the charity's accounts.

Former cop Trevor Hinkley resigned in disgrace from the police in 2012 after an internal investigation began into his handling of money from traffic diversion schemes.

The following year he pleaded guilty at the Christchurch District Court to charges of theft by a person in special relationship over more than a dozen occasions where he appropriated a total of $2750 intended for victim support payments.

Hinkley, 66, had also served as secretary of the Canterbury Rowing Association (CRA), and this dishonesty conviction should have disqualified him from any further involvement running or handling finances at the charity.

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The CRA is an umbrella body for rowing in the region and is distinct from individual members such as the Canterbury Rowing Club.

But a Charities Services investigation into the CRA found the assocaition had kept Hinkley on as a "Safety Officer" where he was later alleged to have miscoded accounts to misappropriate $4500 - the bulk of which occured after his earlier conviction had became public knowledge.

Questions sent to by the Herald Hinkley were answered by his wife, Marilyn, who said her husband was unable to talk as he suffered clinical depression and dementia. She said he had not held office with the CRA since September 2014 and disputed the $4500 claim.

"I can't let you talk to Trevor, but your figure is absolutely incorrect. What happened with the CRA, I undestand it was fully resolved," she said.

The Charities Service investigation report into the CRA was obtained under the Official Information Act (OIA) by the Herald as part of its Opening the Charity Box series looking into the health of New Zealand's $53 billion nonprofit sector.

Despite the rowing clubs' officials telling the Charities Services the matter would be referred to the Police, no formal complaint against Hinkley was ever laid.

The report chronicled problems both the police and the Charities Service had in getting to the bottom of the matter, with the CRA president Justin Walls criticised for "providing very vague and inadequate answers".

In August Detective Sergeant Ross Tarawhiti told Charities Service investigators his probe of the matter was held up "due to the Society's officers not providing him with the requested statements he needed".

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In November CRA president Walls, an Ashburton dentist, declined to tell the Charities Service why Hinkley had suddenly retired.

"He has resigned for personal reasons. He neither jumped nor was he pushed," Walls told investigators.

Walls told the Herald he blamed the probe on rival factions within the rowing club, and this intra-club conflict led to what he described as a "reasonably acrimonious" relationship with the Charities Service.

"My responses were short and sharp," he said, criticising the Charities Service investigator: "To be honest her report is opinion, and not fact."

The Charities Service report, dated March 14, 2017, said while Hinkley' appointment as Safety Officer - a position not defined by the constitution of the society - did not breach the Charities Act prohibiting those with dishonesty convictions from being officers, his conduct while in this role did.

"It is clear due to the fact that Mr Hinkley was able to misappripriate the money from one of the Society's accounts that his access was not monitored and he was left on his own accord [to] use the money as he sees fit in his new role," the report concluded.

Walls blamed wrongdoing on Hinkley: "The procedures and policies of CRA didn't lead to Trevor Hinkley's dishonesty. The positions we put him in didn't make him dishonest. And Hinkley was dishonest."

Walls said the matter was finally settled in December 2016 - six months after the Charities Service began investigating the matter - when Hinkley repaid $690, and defended his handling of the matter with police.

"I can't speak for the police, but my view is the police would've taken the view that this was small beans," Walls said.

A spokesman for New Zealand Police told the Herald: "No formal police complaint was laid and the matter was resolved in-house."

The Charities Service issued CRA with a formal warning due to both Hinkley's access to accounts, and repeated delays in providing requested information.

Rowing New Zealand chairman Gerald Dwyer, a life member of CRA, did not return repeated calls from the Herald over whether the national body had any concerns about management at his old club.