Face of the Day

Rotorua fashion designer Kharl Wirepa has spoken out for the first time about his welfare fraud conviction, telling Three’s The Hui about lying to Work and Income so he could succeed in his studies.

“I know what I did wasn’t the right thing. I’ve used that education to really reshape not just my community but also I’ve used that education to change the entire image of our fashion industry, in particular for indigenous people.”

Wirepa was convicted of 14 counts of benefit fraud for the almost $12,000 worth of extra allowances he claimed while he was a student studying fashion design at Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua.

The precedent is clearly there:  defraud the taxpayer and face the legal consequences.  Saying “I’ll pay it back if they ask me to” and “I was justified to do it as I needed the money” simply doesn’t hold water.

fraud metiria turei

The sick irony is that Metiria will probably not be able to pay her fine and will claim hardship while unemployed.

The answer to that is to stick her in jail.   Five years of sustained fraud without any remorse should qualify you for that.

On the other hand

Wirepa’s father Rod Wirepa knows his son has the ability to rebuild his business so he can pay back Work and Income but he knows it’s not going to be easy.

“To be honest he’s got no money, he lost his job over what happened. The judge was right in a lot of ways, if she could have sent him to jail, she would have,” Rod says.



– Te Hui, Newshub


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