Maori king's son's ruling appealed

Last updated 20:14 23/07/2014
	 Korotangi Paki
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
THE MAORI KING'S SON: Korotangi Paki, 19.

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The Crown has filed an appeal against a judge's ruling that saw the Maori king's son let off drink driving and theft charges. 

Korotangi Paki, 19, was discharged without conviction in the Auckland District Court earlier this month on two counts of burglary, one of theft and one of drink driving. 

Crown Law Office media adviser Jan Fulstow said the appeal was made today as the result of "a very thorough review" by senior counsel.

"Because the matter is before the courts we won't be commenting any further."

Judge Philippa Cunningham discharged Paki after his lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, argued a conviction would hinder his ability to accede the throne. 

Wicks also confirmed an appeal was filed today and said a hearing date would be set soon, but didn't know when it was likely to be. 

He did not comment further. 

The drink-driving offence took place on October 20 last year. Paki had been stopped on a Gisborne street at 2.15am, and a breath test gave a reading of 761. The current limit for drivers under the age of 20 is zero.

Potential successors to the Maori throne had to have an unblemished record because of the custodial responsibilities involved as king.

‘‘The chiefs around the country are often heard to say [heirs to the throne] have to be ’whiter than the dove’,’’ Wicks said at the time.

Cunningham agreed and discharged Paki without conviction but imposed a special condition he provide the court with evidence he did not have an alcohol problem and if he did, that he had addressed it.

She said the consequences of a conviction were out of proportion to the offending.

The ruling led to an uproar from commentators and social media.

The Labour MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, said a judge's decision had been made on what was thought to be the full base of facts, and if the Crown was appealing it may have more information.

However, she was not aware of the grounds of the appeal.

"It's very difficult to appeal the judgement once it's been made," she said.

"If there's valid reasons for the Crown Law to appeal they will have to present their case."

The case struck close to home for her and she had maintained all along that young people should be treated equally and fairly under the law.

But they should also be given the chance to redeem themselves and make a productive contribution to society, she said.

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Public attention around Paki's case was because of his family's profile, she said.

"It's a common thing, kids of high-profile people tend to be judged more harshly than other kids. And that's just a reality."

There were numerous examples, including the late Paul Holmes' daughter Millie Elder, who generated much attention when she appeared in court multiple times, mostly on drug charges.

Paki’s three co-accused in the theft and burglary were each fined $400 and discharged without conviction when they appeared in Gisborne District Court last month.

The four pleaded guilty to a March incident where they stole surfboards from a holiday park and items and clothing from a car.

- Stuff

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