Sir Howard Morrison's daughter, Donna Mariana Grant, has admitted defrauding a tertiary education provider and a Crown agency of at least $1.3 million.
Some of the money was used to prop up the New Zealand Warriors Foundation.
Other portions were used to help Te Arawa host the Te Matatini kapa haka festival and a private training entity based in Rotorua.
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Grant, a prominent Māori performing arts educator, pleaded guilty to four fraud charges in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday.
She was supported by eight friends and family members in the public gallery, including her uncle, Trevor Maxwell, a long-serving Rotorua Lakes councillor.
The court heard Grant used her leadership of Te Arawa Kapa Charitable Trust, the New Zealand Warriors Foundation, and the Manaakitanga Aotearoa Trust to fraudulently obtain funding from tertiary education provider Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the Tertiary Education Commission.
Grant admitted three charges of dishonestly using documents and one charge of obtaining funding by deception.
All come with a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.
Serious Fraud Office director Julie Read said in a written statement: "Mrs Grant abused her position of authority and the trust of her colleagues".
"Although the defendant did not use the funds to benefit herself financially, her offending ... risked the reputation of the institutions she represented."
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Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi chief executive Professor Wīremu Doherty said in a written statement: "Our thoughts are with Donna and wider whānau and iwi."
Tertiary Education Commission acting chief executive Gillian Dudgeon welcomed the guilty pleas.
She said the commission contacted the Serious Fraud Office in 2014 when it became "concerned about practices and behaviours that put student interests and government funding at risk".
Grant was the first woman to be appointed to the Warriors rugby league club board.
A New Zealand Warriors media spokesman refused to comment.
How Donna Grant did it
Charge 1: Dishonestly using documents
On September 17, 2012, Te Arawa Kapa Charitable Trust trustees discussed fundraising ideas after being chosen to host Te Matatini in Rotorua the next year.
Grant said fundraising through the Hei Manaaki programme offered by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi could help pay for volunteers' uniforms and catering.
Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, based in Whakatāne, offered Māori Tourism Certificates at New Zealand Qualifications Authority's Levels 3 and 4 through Hei Manaaki.
The kapa haka trust signed a contract with Awanuiārangi to deliver Hei Manaaki courses for 50 students between July 23 and November 23, 2012.
The contract was "inspired and facilitated" by Grant, a summary of facts stated, and specified the delivery of an 18-week course to start on July 23.
That was eight weeks before Grant had raised the idea with the kapa haka committee.
Awanuiārangi paid two invoices by direct credit on December 4, 2012.
One was for $64,552.12 for teaching and another was for $1,552.50 for hiring teaching space.
Charge 2: Dishonestly using documents
In late 2012, Grant told Awanuiārangi she would deliver a Hei Manaaki programme for Te Matatini volunteers.
The volunteers were asked to attend a training day on January 12, 2013.
They were provided with answers and were not assessed, the summary said.
None of the volunteers were aware of the true nature of the enrolment forms.
Grant then facilitated the signing of another contract between Awanuiārangi and the kapa haka trust for another Hei Manaaki course for up to 100 students between February 11, 2013 and June 14, 2013.
On May 31, 2013, Awanuiārangi paid $44,084.38 to the trust for the programme delivery in February and March.
On August 5, 2013, it paid another $87,556.47 for the delivery in April, May and June.
Charge 3:Dishonestly using documents
In May 2012, Sir Owen Glenn appointed Grant to be his representative on the Warriors Rugby Club board.
She helped establish the Warriors Foundation to help recruits into other avenues in life if they could not make the transition to professional sport.
Grant facilitated the signing of a contract for the Warriors Foundation to deliver another Hei Manaaki course with Awanuiārangi.
The Warriors management's "understanding of the contract was that it represented a grant to the Warriors Foundation, they were not aware that the foundation was contracting to deliver an 18-week educational course to its members" the summary said.
The Warriors Rugby Club told players and staff they needed to attend a cultural day at the Auckland University marae on January 21, 2013.
Attendees included the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, administration staff and senior players.
They were required to complete enrolment forms before completing the assessments, but none were aware of Awanuiārangi's expectations for people taking part.
On May 27, 2013, Awanuiārangi paid $83,336.02 for the facilitation of the Hei Manaaki course for 94 students from February to April.
That same day, a Warriors board meeting recorded the Warriors Foundation was self-funded with grants, including money from Awanuiārangi.
On August 5, 2013, Awanuiārangi paid another $65,776.69 for the course delivery.
During a Deloitte audit of Awanuiārangi, Grant submitted falsified attendance sheets to represent that some of these students had attended Hei Manaaki sessions.
She also contacted the members and management of the Warriors Foundation and provided them with false attendance records and resource booklets.
Nobody at the Warriors agreed to participate in Grant's efforts to mislead the auditors the summary stated.
Charge 4: Obtaining by deception
Manaakitanga Aotearoa Trust was a private training entity based in Rotorua.
Between 2010 and 2014, Grant was the charity's chief executive and operational manager.
Grant reported to the Tertiary Education Commission that 113 students completed either a National Certificate of Māori Performing Arts (New Zealand Qualifications Authority Level 4) or a Diploma of Māori Performing Arts (Level 6) between 2010 and 2014.
She obtained a total of $970,278 from the commission for this, but the students were fictitious.