Man who pretended to be Tahitian prince is back in NZ

A kiwi fraudster who assumed the identity of a Tahitian prince has returned to New Zealand. 

Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel, was released from a Queensland correctional centre yesterday. 

He went from 'His Royal Highness', to a prisoner, to free man, in just seven years, for the biggest embezzlement of taxpayer funds in the state's history. 

The now 44-year-old gained infamy in 2011, when he was caught. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to five fraud and three-drug offences. 

When the scam was uncovered authorities seized and sold his possessions, recovering $12.5 million. 

He had also fleeced his employer 'Queensland Health' out of $16.7 million dollars. 

The stolen cash was siphoned off charity grants and used instead to fund a life of luxury. 

A waterfront home, expensive art, a Louis Vuitton shoe collection, even a fake crown. 

A necessary investment for a man who was telling his friends that his lifestyle was funded by his family who were Tahitian royalty. 

His real family back in New Zealand are believed to have picked him up from Auckland Airport last night and driven him to the Coromandel Peninsula. 

And neighbours and locals are saying he's welcome back, since having served his time.

"The Morehu clan around this place are legends," said a local. 

Morehu-Barlow is expected to spend the next two years on parole, living at his mother's house here in Thames, living a quieter life. 

But Morehu-Barlow still owes Australian taxpayers around 10 million dollars plus interest.

A fake royal that has racked up a princely bill.