Swan case not a one-off: Boatie

By Kiri Gillespie

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One of the men onboard a jetboat that was filmed running over black swans in Tauranga Harbour says the incident was not a one-off and there are many more people involved.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, released video footage and details of the Boxing Day incident after a fall-out between himself and the person he says was driving the boat.

The clip shows four people in a speeding jetboat as it appears to make beelines for individual swans, hitting at least seven.

The man said in his view the "swan trips" were used by boaties to hunt waterfowl.

"It has been going on for a long time," the man said.

Other footage, viewed by the Bay of Plenty Times, shows another jetboat racing alongside as a swan is hit.

The man said one of the other people on board "had no idea what was going on" and was "horrified".

The man said there were ill feelings between himself and the boat driver, who he has known for about five years.

The release of the footage "had been building up for some time".

In his view, those involved knew what they were doing was wrong because it tended to be done at night when no one else was around.

The alleged boat driver, a farmer, declined to comment on the matter when contacted yesterday, referring any queries to his lawyer Mark Beech.

Mr Beech would not comment.

The Tauranga Harbourmaster declined to comment.

However, a Bay of Plenty Regional Council spokesperson said the council did not condone any unsafe behaviour on the water, regardless of whether human or wildlife safety was at stake.

"People need to be aware that any behaviour or action that doesn't fall within the navigational bylaws and general water safety rules could be detrimental to themselves or others, and that is never acceptable."

Jetboating New Zealand spokesman Paul Mullan said it would investigate whether the man was a member.

He said there were strong feelings among the national executive to expel the man from the association, if that was the case.

Tauranga SPCA confirmed it was investigating the matter and, because of this, would not comment further.

Fish and Game New Zealand chief executive Bryce Johnson said the incident was "very, very unethical" because it targeted swans that would have struggled to fly because they were moulting at this time of year.

Mr Johnson said his organisation was supporting the SPCA in its investigation.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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