A Whanganui couple busted for growing cannabis say they were desperate to pay off their mortgage.

Junelle Tui, 24, and Shayne Cudby, 27, pleaded guilty in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday to cultivating cannabis.

Police say they found 15 adult plants, 15 small plants, 12 15cm seedlings, 25 small clones in jiffy bags and buckets of cannabis leaves when they were called to a family dispute in Whanganui.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Stephen Butler told the court the grow-room was hidden behind a fake bookcase door in a sleepout.


"It was fitted out with lights, fans, ducting, reflective lining and cannabis plants in different stages of growth."

Butler said one bucket of leaves was soaking in isopropyl alcohol, used in the manufacture of cannabis oil.

"A large amount of cash, a total of $2820 was located in various locations around the property, including the freezer," Butler said.

He said Tui and Cudby told police they needed the money for their mortgage and other living expenses.

"[They] admitted to growing cannabis for at least the past six months and to making cannabis oil."

Defence lawyer Debbie Goodlet said both defendants pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

Judge Dugald Matheson convicted Tui and Cudby and remanded them on bail for sentencing on March 27.