The former head of a Taranaki Iwi group claims he is working to recoup nearly $20 million he lost in bad investments.
Greg White, the former Chief Executive of Ngati Tama, left the country in April. He has been criticised for dodging questions over failed investments as well as accusations concerning the treatment of crew members aboard the Iwi's joint venture fishing vessel.
In an exclusive interview with TV ONE's Marae Investigates, White said he took responsibility for losing millions of dollars of treaty settlement money.
"Yes i always have. And I don't think it's lost and that's the difference. It's been invested.
"I'm just here trying to sort of tidy up a mess," he said.
White invested more than $14 million in a software start-up company and a joint venture deep sea fishing business with a Christchurch-based Korean company. Together they owned a vessel named the Shin Ji.
Documents released under the Official Information Act show the Department of Labour and Immigration New Zealand spent more than a year investigating allegations of crew abuse and slave labour on board the Shin Ji.
Immigration New Zealand confirmed the investigation took place after seven Indonesian crew members walked off the Shin Ji in Auckland and were quickly sent home.
The inquiry report was requested under the Official Information Act by the Tauranga-based human rights organisation Slave Free Seas.
The report found "the crew interviews indicate that some of the crew were being mistreated. There is no evidence of this, neither is there any evidence refuting".
Immigration New Zealand has confirmed no charges will be laid.
White told Marae Investigates he did not feel like he had been unfairly caught in an international search for people involved in human trafficking.
"I don't think unfairly. I think they're just misinformed individuals and they're almost crusaders," White commented.
White is taking legal action against his Korean partner over the ownership of the Shin Ji and a court ruling is expected next month.