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Maori King’s charity offices raided in fraud probe

The charity offices of New Zealand’s Maori King have been raided by Serious Fraud Office investigators

Fraud investigators have raided the offices of New Zealand’s Maori King as part of a probe into mismanagement of funds.

Investigators seized documents and computer hardware during a search of the offices of the Ururangi Trust, a charity that supports the functions of King Tuheitia Paki, on Tuesday morning.

While the Maori King does not have any constitutional or legal powers, the Kingitanga movement is a culturally significant institution in parts of Maoridom.

A Serious Fraud Office spokesman confirmed the search of the offices but said further details could not be disclosed because of ongoing investigations.

The raid comes after the trust was referred over by New Zealand’s charities watchdog, following an investigation into misspending.

An earlier Charity Services report warned spending on jewellery, travel and other luxury items could jeopardise the trust’s charity status, according to TVNZ.

Founded in 1858 by a group of iwi – or tribes – in New Zealand’s central North Island, the movement was originally intended to unify Maori under a sovereign in the face increasing European settlement.

The trust receives about $NZ2 million ($A1.8 million) a year from the Tainui tribal confederation.

Tuheitia was elected king in 2006.

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