NZ couple who sued daughter: 'I slaved picking tomatoes for my money'

A Tauranga couple who took their daughter to the High Court over $368,000 in unpaid loans have warned people to "be aware of even their own children".

Trevor and Marian Warin stood their ground when their daughter Colleen Warin, a chartered accountant, did not pay back money the elderly couple had lent her.

The loans were not written down, but on April 26, the court ruled in their favour, finding Colleen owed $367,904 to her parents.

"My daughter Colleen told me after taking our money that 'I am not her mother'. I slaved picking tomatoes and worked all my life for my money," Ms Warin wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

She also said one of her sons owed the couple money.

"We also bought [him] a house and did it up and he is also not paying his father and me properly.

"In fact they both drove me out of my own home. I am staying with my other son Nigel in Australia till its all sorted out [sic].

"My husband has dementia and my children turned him against me, and my son."

Her daughter won't speak to her now, Marian wrote.

"Colleen is an accountant and bought a Mercedes and a property on Waiheke Island for her retirement instead of paying me and my husband back.

"I need support and help to get her to sign over the properties and provide me with cash as my son Nigel is supporting me till I get my life and security back."

The court action was a sad way to go for the family, estate law expert Denise Robins says, "but it's the only way they had to reclaim their losses.

"If there is an expectation that you will be paid back, and under what terms, then you should record it," she warned on RadioLIVE.

She says there's been a lapse in good book-keeping with personal loans since the laws have changed.

"If you go back to the 1960s you have a thing called the Estate and Gift Duties Act. That was written by the Government to deal with income tax avoidance and social assistance.

"Slowly over the years certain parts of that Act were abolished until now it's been completely abolished.

"Prior to 2011 when gift duties and everything else was repealed, I think a lot of people were a lot more on to it and would make a recording of what it was that they would do because their solicitors if they were ever involved would say 'hey listen this is not really a very healthy thing for you to do'.

"Even if it is your own children, the most serious thing that you need if you're giving a substantial amount of money to your family... You've got to keep some kind of adequate record."