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October 9, 2006 | by  | in News |
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NT Fraudster Out On Parole

Former NGAI Tauira Treasurer Wi Nepia, convicted of fraud late last year, has been released on parole after serving over a third of his sentence.

Nepia was sentenced to two years and two months imprisonment after being found guilty of fraud last November. The presiding judge concluded that he had defrauded the Maori Students’ Association of over $160,000 between 2001 and 2003, partly to fund his gambling addiction.

An application for parole had previously been denied in May, with the Parole Board ruling that Nepia had failed to provide evidence that he “would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community.” However, the Board advised that Nepia could reapply in three months “once more definite arrangements” had been settled.

A second hearing in August saw Nepia released, subject to several special conditions.

The Board ruled that Nepia must not be “engaged, in a paid or unpaid capacity, in any position involved in the handling of finances without the prior written approval from the Probation Officer.” He must also complete counseling for problem gambling, and not “enter premises that hold a gambling license.” A spokesperson for the Parole Board says that the Board has chosen to extend the parole conditions beyond the end of his sentence, until next year, to create “a safety net for the community until August 2008.”

If Nepia breaches any of the conditions he can be sent back to prison. Current Ngai Tauira President Maryjane Waru was surprised by Nepia’s release, saying “I suppose everyone gets out, but we just expected him to be in there longer.”

She adds she was disappointed that she was not made aware of Nepia’s impending release. “It would have been nice to have known,” she says.

However, the Board’s spokesperson says that “Mr. Nepia has no registered victims, and therefore no-one for us to contact to inform them of an upcoming hearing.” Victim registration is usually performed by the Police during the conviction or sentencing.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

Comments (2)

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  1. James Nepia says:

    Hi,
    My name is James Nepia, Wi Nepia’s son.
    I woudl just like to comment first of that gambling addiction is something which has proven it can strike anyone at anytime, i think everyone problem knows someone affected by it. Since being imprisoned last year he has undergone counselling for his problems and prison has helped him sort through his problems and again become a valuable member of society.
    People tend to forget that my father also did many other things than ripping one bunch of wankers off, he has helped to establish the Nga Puawai Kohanga Reo in taita helping many young maori children continue on with the tradition of their culture from a young age and in total summersion.
    If not for him at times working for free, and running servies in his own time such as taxing kids to and from school the kohanga may not of servived.
    as for the comments made by Maryjane Waru, you make him sound as if he personally attacked you, what he did was a victimless crime, you can cry all you want about losing out bla bla bla but we all know there was plenty more where it came from.
    you had no need to know as he poses no threat to you or anyone else.
    People shouldnt be judged by their pasts, but what they strive to do now, i’m sure at times in your life youve done things your ashamed of?

  2. James says:

    Fraud is not a victimless crime.

    The money that was stolen was used to fund Wi Nepia’s gambling addiction. And NT was deprived of using that to increase the quality of life for Maori students on campus, and the good work they set out to do was hurt further by the resulting lack of trust that such an action brings to an organisation.

    People should always have to face their pasts, and accept what they have done. And using addiction as an excuse for defrauding money is unacceptable. “There’s always more where that came from” is an excuse that fuels addiction, not helps it.

    Alcoholism, drug addiction, paedophilia are all “illnesses” and addictions as such, but all because the effect of gambling may not be in direct physical terms on another person doesn’t mean that the theft of money should be okayed.

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