A businesswoman once recognised with a Queen's honour has lost another appeal in court, after being ordered to repay more than $12 million to a Māori trust in 2014.

Rae Beverley Adlam, a former Waiariki Young Woman of the Year and Bay of Plenty businesswoman of the year, was in 2014 found to have breached her duties as a trustee by wrongfully profiting from the development of two geothermal power stations, and the sale of shares in a power station company.

She was ordered to pay the Matatā Parish 39A 2A Ahu Whenua Trust (The Bath Trust) $12,780,111.75 plus interest and costs in 2014.

Adlam appealed the decision in the Māori Appellate Court and Court of Appeal and lost.


In November last year, she was also ordered to pay back "all funds derived from the revenue payable or to become payable" by Judge Craig Coxhead, but she appealed this too.

At the time of her Maori Appellate Court hearing in Rotorua on May 8 this year, Adlam was yet to pay back any of the $12,780,111.75 judgment debt.

Adlam's lawyer Lynne Van argued that she was not able to be charged, stating Adlam had no absolute legal entitlement to the revenue, and it was presently unknown and incapable of being quantified.

The trustees of the Savage Papakāinga Land Trust argued in support of Judge Coxhead's order.

Their lawyer, Damian Stone, said the high threshold for appeal was not met.

Presiding Judge Stephen Clark, Judge Sarah Reeves, and Judge Michael Doogan released their judgment this week.

They dismissed Adlam's appeal, stating they saw "no error of law".

The judges said it was clear Adlam had "never provided a complete, transparent and verified disclosure of her assets".

"There is a conspicuous lack of any evidence explaining what she has done with the very considerable profits she received."

The judgment also said "on the evidence before him, it was entirely open to Judge Coxhead to conclude that there had been no attempt to repay any funds".

"We also think it was entirely reasonable for him to express concern that having lost in the litigation, Ms Adlam was now looking to get out of making any repayment of the funds she has wrongly taken.

"We concur with Judge Coxhead's expression of concerns about Ms Adlam's conduct and we agree that the trustees and beneficiaries should be given some certainty regarding any necessary steps to enforce the judgment debt. A charging order is one such means of doing this."

Adlam was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business in 2008.

At the time, she had an extensive portfolio of business and Māori enterprises spanning four decades.

She once held a top position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as the former director of the Kaupapa Māori division of the ministry.

Adlam is also a former member of the Qualifications Authority, a former Bay of Plenty Area Health Board member, and a former trustee of the New Zealand Telethon Trust.

She previously held roles with the Lottery Bay of Plenty, Gisborne Community Development Committee, Bay of Plenty Electricity, Trustbank Bay of Plenty, and NZ Forestry Corporation.

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