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Tau gets community detention over kereru

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/08/2016

Northland iwi leader Sonny Tau has been sentenced to three months' community detention and fined for perverting the course of justice after shooting five protected kereru.

The Ngapuhi chairman was caught by Department of Conservation staff with the five frozen wood pigeons at Invercargill Airport in June last year.

In May this year he pleaded guilty to an additional charge of perverting the course of justice during the investigation into the shooting, by asking someone else to take the blame.

On Thursday, Tau was handed the community sentence, along with $24,500 in fines and costs and 100 hours community service at the Invercargill District Court.

The elder stood down from his role as a Treaty of Waitangi negotiator for the iwi last year.

He voiced his regret over his actions saying: "I also wish to say this was a mistake, which I deeply regret. The laws around native bird protection are important and to be respected by all, myself included".

Department of Conservation operations deputy director-general Mike Slater welcomed the sentence, saying he hoped it would send a strong message.

"The continued poaching of kereru puts extra pressure on a species already under threat from pests and loss of forest habitat," he said.

"It also undermines the conservation work by DOC, councils, local communities and iwi to control pests and restore forests to safeguard this much-loved species and taonga."

The kereru, the native wood pigeon, has been protected by law since 1912.

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