Pāua poacher to be on home detention near Whangārei harbour

Sonny Wairau appearing for sentencing at Wellington District Court on Friday. After poaching of hundreds of kilograms of ...
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Sonny Wairau appearing for sentencing at Wellington District Court on Friday. After poaching of hundreds of kilograms of Wellington paua and sea cucumber, he and has been given home detention near Whangārei Harbour.

A man who poached hundreds of kilograms of pāua and sea cucumber from around Wellington has been given home detention close to Whangārei Harbour.

Sonny Gilbert Wairau, 38, was banned from fishing after being caught and convicted in September 2015.

But between December 2015 and June last year he and two others began taking pāua and sea cucumber from around Wellington's coastline and selling it.

Wairau had pleaded guilty to 40 charges of illegally selling pāua, offering to sell them, and breaching the prohibition order.

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On Friday, Wellington District Court judge Arthur Tompkins sentenced him to seven months' home detention at an address near Whangārei Harbour.  

The judge warned him that, if there was any more offending, the most likely outcome would be jail.

Wairau had been part of what he and the others called the Pāua Corporation. In six months, 257kg of greenweight pāua was taken and 31kg of sea cucumbers. Another 15kg of processed meat was also sold.

The judge said it was a longstanding course of conduct, and done without any authority for commercial sale.  They made 20 transactions to sell the fish.

He banned Wairau from fishing for a further three years.

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Another man is to be sentenced in December.  A third man has avoided court, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Wairau's lawyer, Colin Ross, said he had not been living the high life, and had an alcohol problem that needed addressing.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' operation was called Fringe. Officers followed the three men and intercepted text messages about when and where they would dive for pāua.

 - Stuff

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