A Blenheim man has been found guilty of wilfully ill-treating a group of seals which he clubbed to death on the Kaikoura coast.
Jemaal Large admitted killing 23 fur seals, or kekeno, at Ohau Point on the Kaikoura Coast in November 2010. However, he claimed he had legally hunted them and denied causing them pain or distress.
He was charged under the Animal Welfare Act which requires the prosecution to prove wilful ill-treatment.
Blenheim District Court Judge Peter Hobbs on Thursday found Large not guilty of wilfully ill-treating eight seal pups, because they were most likely rendered unconscious immediately.
However, he was found guilty of the counts relating to 13 adult females and two adult males.
Crown Prosecutor Jackson Webber later told Radio New Zealand News it had been a tough case.
"What we had to do was prove ... that they had suffered pain or distress as opposed to being rendered unconscious and being killed immediately," Mr Webber said.
Jemaal Large was remanded on bail until sentencing on 30 October.
His associate, Jason Godsiff, has already admitted culpability and been sentenced to eight months' home detention for his part in the killings.