Week in Review

Liquidators on the hunt for Marama Fox

Update: Following publication, Newsroom was contacted by people who said Fox was in Wellington last week. She attended the launch of RNZ's new podcast series Matangireia on Thursday, and was spotted at Friday's climate strike.

Former Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox has gone to ground, owing creditors more than $100,000. Laura Walters reports.

Liquidators of Marama Fox’s failed consulting company have had to engage agents to track down the former political party leader, who is believed to have been in Australia.

Creditors have claimed Fox owes them more than $111,000, which she said she planned to pay back through personal finance, soon after her company went into liquidation last year.

At the time, Fox told Newsroom she was “devastated”, saying she apologised unreservedly for what had happened.

She said she was fully co-operating with the liquidator, and later said she would be able to personally raise the money and pay everyone back.

But over the past year, Fox has not fronted up with any money and the company’s liquidator Grant Reynolds said he had not been able to get in contact with her for the past few months.

Reynolds said he now planned to serve legal proceedings against Fox, for a breach of her duties as a director.

However, he was not able to serve her with the papers to launch the proceedings without knowing where she was.

Some people believed Fox had moved to Australia, and a photo on her Facebook page pointed to her being in Australia at some point during the year.

While it was not clear where Fox was currently living, she was in Wellington late last week.

“She obviously doesn’t care at all about any of the people she owes money to. My sympathy to her has gone.”

Meanwhile, he said he had met legal counsel and drafted the case against her, and had held off filing proceedings until she was able to be located.

The latest liquidator report, dated September 25, again pointed out the company was under-capitalised from the outset, and contracts the company had been working on did not come through, meaning it was not able to charge any fees or commission as a form of income.

Fox’s business, Marama Fox Consultancy Group Tapui, was set up in October 2017 – after the Māori Party failed to return to Parliament – with the purpose of launching a venture to build environmentally friendly, affordable homes – specifically for Māori.

But no money came in, despite Fox using her name and public persona, to secure goods and services for the business on credit.

Rotorua self-employed travel agent Amy Turuta says she felt bad for Marama Fox when she heard she was having a rough time, but no longer had any sympathy for the former MP. Photo: Supplied

Self-employed Rotorua travel agent Amy Turuta is owed about $45,000 by Fox's business.

The chances of Turuta recovering any of the debt was “not sounding great”, she said.

“I guess we’re running out of options and running out of hope.”

Last year, Turuta said she felt “a little bit stink” for Fox, as she hadn’t made it back into Parliament, her marriage had broken up, her business had gone under, and she was having a rough time.

And earlier this year, Fox pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge.

“I think I’ve got to the point now where she’s just a liar," Turuta said.

“She obviously doesn’t care at all about any of the people she owes money to. My sympathy to her has gone.”

While Fox made apologies and promises in the media, she never contacted the people she owed.

Turuta said this debt added to a difficult period at the end of last year, but now her business was going well.

The debt, which she would likely pay back to her parent company NZ Travel Brokers over a number of years, would not sink her business or make a material impact on her life.

“At the same time, it’s pretty shitty to have a $45,000 debt.”

Fox has not responded to requests for comment.

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