Community work for paua poachers
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.