This article appeared on Stuff today and is a classic example of the kind of ‘thinking’ that constant fawning to Maori by the establishment engenders – that somehow, because they are on Maori land, that they are above the law of the land:
Two Bay of Plenty men accused of poaching trout say a court has no jurisdiction to deal with them because they were on Maori land.
12 August 2014
Two men accused of poaching trout have thumbed their noses at the court’s ability to deal with them.
Appearing in Rotorua District Court on Tuesday afternoon Thomas Tawha, 41, of Kawerau and David Pake Leef, 35, Te Teko, told Judge Jocelyn Munro they didn’t believe the court had the right to deal with them.
Accordingly they responded “no jurisdiction” when asked to plead to all the charges put to them.
Leef claimed the land the pair were allegedly on belonged to a Maori incorporation, therefore was “our territorial authority”.
Judge Munro told each man the question of jurisdiction was well documented in both the high and appeal courts and if they wanted to argue the matter it would have to be in those courts.
She entered not guilty pleas on their behalf and remanded them on bail to reappear for a case review on September 17.
She noted Tawha and Leef had declined offers from duty solicitors to assist them as well as legal aid and had received disclosure of the details surrounding their alleged offending from NZ Fish and Game which is prosecuting them.
Leef faces charges of disturbing a rainbow trout spawning ground, possessing a net suitable for taking sport fish and taking rainbow trout from a spawning ground.
Each charge which is dated July 6, relates to a Lake Rotoiti tributary stream on the outskirts of Rotorua protected from fishing.
Tawha is charged with two counts of being found without reasonable excuse in an area that displayed a “no trespassing” notice, two of disturbing a rainbow trout spawning ground and two of possessing a net suitable for sport fishing in an area where rainbow trout were spawning.
The offences are alleged to have occurred on June 25 and July 6.
The maximum penalty on each charge, apart from trespass, is two years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $100,000 or both.
NZ Fish & Game previously said the men were caught after a covert surveillance operation in the area.