15 May 2013

Ngai Tahu carver grateful for court bypass

9:30 am on 15 May 2013

A man accused of stealing pounamu from his tribe is grateful his iwi stepped in to resolve the matter rather than going to court.

Last year, Ngai Tahu artist Bevan Climo, who is also affiliated to Makaawhio (a West Coast Maori trust board) appeared in Greymouth District Court accused of taking snowflake or tahutahi pounamu from his own iwi.

The South Island iwi trust boards, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Te Runanga o Makaawhio have since asked for the charges against Mr Climo be dropped.

In a statement, the two trust boards say the charges have since been withdrawn by the Crown authorities.

Mr Climo says the situation virtually destroyed his passion for carving, but now he can move on and get back into the studio to work.

He says he takes his hat off to the tribes for setting up a meeting to resolve the matter, rather than going through the courts.

An Auckland-based barrister, Todd Simmonds, says it's most unusual for an iwi to step in and make such a request.

He says the Crown would have obviously considered the iwi view that Mr Climo had customary rights to greenstone.

Mr Simmonds says advice of that nature would have directly helped the Crown decide whether or not it could successfully prosecute Mr Climo.