10 May 2016

Sonny Tau guilty of perverting course of justice

2:35 pm on 10 May 2016

Ngāpuhi leader Sonny Tau has pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Sonny Tau outside court

Sonny Tau outside court in March, 2016. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Tau was caught with five dead kererū by Department of Conservation staff at Invercargill airport last June. He pleaded guilty in the Invercargill District Court today to perverting the course of justice.

He has previously pleaded guilty to having the protected birds, but his son-in-law, Douglas Sadlier, tried to take the blame for the hunting.

Both men were charged with perverting the course of justice.

Tau was advised by the judge at today's hearing that he's likely to face a fine of $24,000, three months community detention and 100 hours of community service.

Tau's lawyer, John Munro, said he had no argument with the sentencing.

"I think the final sentence is a reflection of the crime and his culpability in it and so I think it's a very good sentence and a fair sentence."

Tau stepped aside as chair of the rūnanga after being caught with the dead kererū last year.

Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi said they would give full consideration to today's court decision, but wouldn't comment on whether Mr Tau would return to his position as the chair of the board.

Acting chair Carol Dodd said it was a priority for the board to determine Mr Tau's future role with the rūnanga, in the best interest of all Ngāpuhi.