Following widespread publicity, the daughter of retirees who begged her to pay back $368,000 in unpaid loans says she may yet appeal the decision.
Marian and Trevor Warin won a legal case against their daughter over decades of loans she failed to pay back.
The couple earned a $3 million fortune developing orchards, and Marian claims they have been living off pensions since their 80s because of their daughter's debt to them.
Their daughter Colleen Warin, in a letter emailed from her lawyer, notes there is still time to appeal the judgment – and that she has never denied the money would need to be repaid.
"Colleen is dismayed with the media publicity about this matter for what is a family dispute, for loans that the judgment records she has never denied would need to be repaid," the letter says.
"The only dispute is over when they were repayable. Colleen is disappointed with the judge's decision, and the time for Colleen to appeal the judgment has yet to expire at this time.
“Colleen would like it known that the loans arise primarily out of the circumstances following the breakup of her marriage, and that she is supporting a child."
Marian, who proclaimed "we are not a bank" in Facebook postings about the case, is pleading for Colleen to hand over her Taupo unit to repay the loans, and has claimed she owned a Mercedes car.
Via her lawyer, Colleen claims she has never owned a Mercedes.
High Court at Wellington associate Judge Warwick Smith found there was no evidence supporting Colleen's contention that there was any agreement that she repay her parents ‘as and when Colleen could afford to repay'.
The judgment shows the lending began in 1996 when the couple transferred their Te Puke property to their daughter with an acknowledgement she owed them $100,000, and an apparently oral agreement that she would build a ‘home for life' for them on the property.
In 2011, the land was subdivided and the house the Warins were living in was sold, so they moved to another part of the land and that was sold too.
The couple, by then in their 80s, then moved to another Te Puke property meant to be their retirement income. They made further loans to Colleen between 2010 and 2014.
The judgement says the couple sent their daughter a letter on May 3, 2012, outlining they were prepared to consider a repayment plan over time with payment of interest in the meantime, ‘given Colleen's apparently difficult circumstances.'
But it does not suggest any agreement of the kind Colleen contended had taken place.
"Colleen appears to have simply ignored the letter," the judgment says.
The judge notes Colleen's marriage ended in 2012, and at the time the letter was sent her husband appeared to be the full-time carer for their son.
The judge found her parents were ‘well within their rights' to demand repayment of the money.
Colleen owns a home in Waiheke Island and a lake-front Taupo resort unit.
Trevor, 90, is at their Te Puke property suffering from dementia, while Marian is currently recovering from pneumonia in Australia with her son Nigel, who says his parents' retirement was ‘stolen'.
Marian told her story on Wednesday as a warning to other Kiwis to use written agreements when it came to lending to family members.
"Terrible, it's all terrible," she says. "The whole thing has been a bit of a shock."