A Napier man whose speeding boat struck an orca off Ahuriri in January avoided being issued with an infringement fine by a matter of days.



Hawke's Bay Regional Council harbourmaster Phil Norman said after an inquiry into the incident, which left the orca bleeding and swimming erratically out toward deep water off Westshore, the operator of the boat was identified and contacted.



However, Mr Norman said at the time of the incident there was no strict Department of Internal Affairs infringement bylaw in place governing boats exceeding inshore speed limits - the legislation was not completed and rubber-stamped until a few days after it happened.



"All we could do was send him a warning letter," Mr Norman said.

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"He certainly got the message and I hope he has learned his lesson."



The incident happened in full view of a Napier family out on a boat, less than 200m from shore.



They had seen the orca chasing a stingray, and were horrified to watch as the speedboat approached and ran into the orca.



"It was clearly in distress and started to roll and swim in circles," one of the witnesses said.



Mr Norman said he understood the man belonged to a local boat club and the club had also been made aware of what had happened.



"Hopefully they had a word with him as well."



He said with infringement legislation now in place, people exceeding inshore speed limits would face immediate fines up to $200, and could also, depending on circumstances, face full prosecution.



The penalties in that case would be "far greater," he said.