Hone racks up six-figure fine

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:58 08/04/2014
Lewis Stanton
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
CAN'T PAY, WON'T PAY: Horse and cart owner Lewis Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, has clocked up fines of over $100,000.

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Hone Ma Heke's fines have topped $100,000.

Lewis Stanton, better known as Hone Ma Heke, received three tickets worth $600 last week which put him over the $100,000 mark.

They were for operating an unregistered motor vehicle, having no evidence of inspection of a private vehicle and failing to put registration plates in an affixed prescribed manner.

Stanton regularly parks his horse and cart in Bridge St, taking up two spaces.

His fines were predominantly for failing to have a registered vehicle.

"Maybe the judge should look out the window to see that I am not operating a motor vehicle," he said.

As of December 20 last year he owed a total of $75,290 worth of fines. He received $4080 worth of fines in January and $8139 in February.

It was a waste of time and energy, he said. "The council is just wanting to make an example of me. It is a game and it stinks of corruption and nobody takes any notice of it.

"Here you have people in this country who are not being looked after or catered for and yet we are paying for the richest family in the world to come visit.

"Doesn't that say something about how wrong our system operates?"

He said because of the amount of fines and his inability to pay them, he was forced to stay in Nelson.

"I am still living in poverty because of the failure of the system."

His anti-establishment campaign against the Nelson City Council and judicial system generally was prompted by what he thought was a wrongful conviction in 1986.

Nelson City Council communications manager Angela Ricker said the council had issued fines of about $110,000 to Stanton for a variety of offences.

The issue of unpaid fines was being dealt with through the Department of Justice.

"Council issues tickets to anyone who parks illegally or operates a vehicle without a current warrant of fitness or registration, without exception, and will continue to do so."

In the Nelson District Court on March 20, Stanton was sentenced to 400 hours' community service for $50,548 of the $110,000.

He had not completed any community service and had received two to three text messages from the Department of Corrections stating that he had failed to comply, he said.

Stanton said he was prepared to go to prison on principle.

"I told them from the start I was not going to be doing it and I want the courts to review my situation. I should not have been ticketed in the first place."

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A Corrections spokesperson declined to comment on the case but said if an offender did not follow the rules, such non-compliance would be treated seriously. A formal breach action could result in a further conviction, another sentence, or imprisonment, she said.

Stanton's defence counsel Steven Zindel said there was the issue of utility regarding the loss of taxpayers' time and money.

"You have to wonder about the question of [council and court] investment if it is just going to lead to jail term after jail term."

That was why he completed pro bono work for Stanton, he said.

"I am a bit worried about his safety as an older eccentric if he goes to prison. I just want to find as many plausible arguments as possible."

Zindel was in the process of challenging the imposition of fines. Provided he could get civil legal aid, he was going to apply for a High Court judicial review on the grounds the council's own bylaw did not apply to Stanton.

"It seems to be definitely arguable that his horse and trailer are not a car."

Stanton is expected in court on April 30 in relation to assault charges.

- Nelson

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