The Mount Maunganui artist accused of damaging a new pou carving in Gate Pa Reserve by fire is allowed to continue his beautification work and charges against him have been withdrawn.

Wilful damage and wilful trespass charges were withdrawn when Brian George Rikirangi, 53, appeared before Tauranga Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen yesterday.

On May 1 Rikirangi, who was one of the artists who carved a pou of Te Wano out of the trunk of a Totara tree for the Battle of Gate Pa 150th commemorations, lit a fire to blacken or "paint" his section of the new carvings without seeking permission. Te Wano was one of the first men killed in the battle.

Police prosecutor David Pawson told Mrs Jensen during a recent restorative hui held between Mr Rikirangi and Tauranga City Council officials an agreement was reached.


The charges would be withdrawn and Mr Rikirangi would be able to complete his portion of the carving, he said.

Mrs Jensen told Mr Rikirangi she was pleased an agreement was reached.

"The carvings are beautiful and I am looking forward to seeing them completed," she said.

Outside court, a relieved Mr Rikirangi said the charges had stemmed from a misunderstanding by "non-artists".

"The use of flame or Ahika is one of oldest carving tools known to man, " he said.

Mr Rikirangi said at the reconciliation hui last week, also attended by Tauranga City Council chief executive Gary Poole, an agreement was reached which allows him to spend a further three days on site to complete his pou carving beautification work.

"It's an awesome outcome," he said.

"I have one more burning to do, then some wire brushing, inlaying with gold wire and then adding a lovely paua eye to Te Wano," he said.

Negotiations are continuing as to when the work would be carried out.