A Dannevirke dairy farmer has been convicted and fined for trapping hawks, painting them red and then photographing them before releasing the birds.
Grant Teahan was found guilty in the Dannevirke District Court on two charges relating to the treatment of the hawks and was fined $5,000, which he has been ordered to pay to the SPCA.
He could also have to pay the SPCA's costs in the defended case.
The 39-year-old denied the charges.
The hawks were first sighted in 2009 in southern Hawke's Bay, sparking rumours of a new species.
Those rumours were put to rest the following year when a post-mortem on one of the hawks revealed the bird had been painted.
SPCA inspectors found evidence of what had been happening on Teahan's computer, including photographs and newspaper articles.
SPCA lead inspector Danny Auger told Checkpoint the case was expensive to prove, costing about $15,000.