A businesswoman honoured by the Queen will be appealing a
court order to return more than $14 million to a Maori land
Rae Beverley Adlam was found by the Maori Land Court to have
"committed a blatant breach of trust'' by taking money for
self-gain from the process of developing geothermal
powerstations on family land in Kawerau.
She was ordered to pay the Bath Trust (formerly the Savage
Papakainga Land Trust) $11.2 million from the sale of a
geothermal power station and royalties received from Bay of
Plenty Electricity of $2.4 million. Adlam was also ordered to
pay $823,000 in interest.
The projects emerged through her Masters of Business Studies
thesis and were developed in the early 1990s. They relate to
Maori land referred to as Lot 39A Sec 2A Parish of Matata
Block (Bath Trust).
During the hearing held in Rotorua in 2012, Adlam claimed she
was entitled to the money as a developer's fee.
She was made a member of New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008
for her leadership, business and community roles.
In the judgment released last week, Judge Craig Coxhead said
Adlam was not to charge or be entitled to a salary.
"Ms Adlam was in a position where her duties as a trustee
conflicted with her personal interest. In taking money due to
the Bath Trust for her own use [she] committed a blatant
breach of trust.
"In my view the seriousness of the blatant breach, the amount
of money involved and the length of time the beneficiaries
have been deprived of the funds, outweighs all those factors
in favour of granting an allowance or developer's fee for Ms
A court ruling in 2008 had suspended Adlam as a trustee but
Judge Coxhead ordered that she be removed from the trust.
Adlam's lawyer Dan Hughes told the Rotorua Daily Post he had
been instructed to lodge an appeal in the next few days.
"We are of the view that there a number of appealable grounds
and we will be pursuing these through the Maori Appellate
Court,'' he said.
"Given the matter will shortly be back before the court it is
inappropriate for me to say anymore than that for now.''
In 2008, Adlam was suspended by the Maori Land Court as a
trustee of the Savage Papakainga Land Trust after she
admitted taking trust funds for her own use.
She was also convicted of 24 charges of tax evasion and
ordered to pay Inland Revenue $133,000 and fined $75,000 in
- By Dana Kinita of the Rotorua Daily Post