Principal admits defrauding small, northern Hawke‘s Bay school

A former principal has pleaded guilty to defrauding a small, northern Hawke‘s Bay kura.

Roberta Little, 52, was set to stand trial in the Gisbourne District Court next week, but instead pleaded guilty to her part in defrauding the school of $103,086.29, Stuff reported.

Little was made principal and chairwoman of the board of trustees of Te Kura o Waikaremoana (near Wairoa) in 2014.

Along with parent representative, Moana Shuttleworth, she was in charge of the school‘s finances.

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An investigation found the women had written false receipts or invoices, and would write cheques to cover the “costs,” with the money deposited into their own bank accounts.

Money was also withdrawn from the school‘s account without record, with Little depositing the majority into her own account.

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In total Little pleaded guilty to eight charges of dishonestly using a document and one of theft by a person in a special relationship, and will be sentenced in February.

Shuttleworth pleaded guilty in April to eight charges of dishonestly using a document for pecuniary advantage and two of theft by a person in a special relationship, and was sentences to five months of home detention, 100 hours of community work, and had to pay reparations of $3414.45.

Te Kura o Waikaremoana is a decile 2 school, located in Tuai, near the southern edge of Lake Waikaremoana.

The two classroom school has predominately Māori students, and has one full immersion class, with one mainstream class.

A limited statutory manager was appointed in June 2015, and in September 2017 the board was dissolved and a commissioner appointed.

The school employed a new principal in early 2018.

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