Sonny Tau's three-month leave of absence is up but the Ngapuhi Runanga is remaining tight-lipped about what roles the former chairman now holds.

Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi announced last year that as of October 19 Mr Tau would be taking 12 weeks' leave from his position as chairman and trustee of the Runanga because of "personal reasons".

The 12 weeks of leave is now over but Runanga has not responded to questions asking if Mr Tau would remain as chairman, stand down or remain in the Runanga in an alternative role. "All media enquiries relating to Mr Tau are with our acting chair," said Ngapuhi Runanga spokesman Tio Taiaki.

But despite Advocate questions about Mr Tau's future with the organisation then being passed on to the acting chairwoman Carol Dodd no response has been forthcoming after more than two weeks.


Mr Tau did not return the Advocate's request for comment but his voicemail said he was still on leave.

Mr Tau was found with several kukupa at Invercargill Airport on June 16. He admitted possessing five kukupa and initially denied hunting the birds. However, in November, Mr Tau pleaded guilty to hunting the protected bird and was convicted on both charges in Auckland District Court. A new charge, of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, was also brought by the police - Mr Tau did not enter a plea in relation to that charge.

Mr Tau is back for a case review hearing in Auckland District Court on March 4.

Back in November, the board released a statement on the situation: "The board will give full consideration to Mr Tau's recent court appearance and determine the most appropriate course of action. It is inappropriate to comment further while matters relating to Mr Tau are still before the court."

Maximum penalties for the unlawful killing or taking of protected species are a fine of $100,000.