Com­mu­nity work for paua poach­ers

Kapi-Mana News - - COURT REPORT -

Ig­no­rance was no de­fence for four Samoan im­mi­grants con­victed of gath­er­ing eight times their paua quota, much of it un­der­sized, at Whi­tireia Park in May.

Can­nons Creek mother-of-three Nora Tal­ifeau, 38, ap­peared in Porirua Dis­trict Court last Tues­day along­side her house­mates Lui Maae­fono, 32, and Tom Malae­fono, 32, both clean­ers, and New­lands knife­hand Ai­ava Malae­silia, 36.

The four had been div­ing for paua and shuck­ing it on the shore on May 1, a lawyer for the Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries told the court.

They gath­ered 340 paua that day, de­spite the limit be­ing 10 paua per per­son. Of their catch, 103 paua weighed less than 80 grams.

Maae­fono and Malae­silia had claimed to be un­aware of lim­its on paua gath­er­ing when con­fronted by of­fi­cials.

All four pleaded guilty on two charges – gath­er­ing more than three times the le­gal paua limit and gath­er­ing un­der­sized paua.

The group’s lawyer Me­gan Boyd ar­gued Maae­fono had been in the coun­try only a year, and all four were ac­cus­tomed to col­lect­ing paua as a way of life in Samoa.

Malae­silia had been in New Zealand two years, Tal­ifeau four and Malae­fono seven.

Their catch was in­tended for a fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion, Ms Boyd said.

But Judge Ian Mill said ig­no­rance of the rules was un­ac­cept­able given paua’s pro­tected sta­tus in New Zealand.

‘‘It’s sim­ply not ac­cept­able for this to oc­cur when the re­source is so scarce now.’’

Ig­no­rance was es­pe­cially far­fetched in Malae­silia’s case, be­cause he has a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for il­le­gal paua gath­er­ing, Judge Mill said.

‘‘You’re all in this to­gether.’’ Tal­ifeau, Maae­fono and Malae­fono were given 120 hours’ com­mu­nity work each, and Malae­silia was given 150 hours ow­ing to his pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion.

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