Men Jailed For ‘Disturbing’ Spawning Trout Poaching

David Pake Leef, 37, was sentenced to four months’ jail for one of the worst trout poaching cases seen in Rotorua in over a decade. Leef and co-accused Thomas Tawha, 43, were convicted in November 2014 of poaching as many as 60 spawning trout from a highly valued spawning stream near Lake Rotoiti.

The fishermen had earlier claimed tangata whenua status to Judge Weir in 2014. Tawha and Leef had both refused legal counsel and claimed that, as tangata whenua, the court had no jurisdiction over them. At the time, Judge Weir rejected their claims, saying they do not apply to trout – an introduced species.

Both men were found guilty of 8 charges under the Conservation Act 1997. Judge McGuire told the court on Thursday that Leef had no right to take trout, either legally, or under any customary right.

While unremarkable old news in the annals of law breaking, note the assertions of the perpetrators that they were above the law and not subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Just another consequence of the apartheid path that successive NZ governments have paved for the population of New Zealand. 20 May 2016.