A Mamaku man has admitted receiving two pou stolen from a grave - but says if he was aware where they'd been stolen from he wouldn't have done so.

Steven John Roberts, 31, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court today to a charge of receiving two carved wooden Maori pou valued at over $1000 knowing they were stolen or having been reckless as to whether they had been obtained by a crime.

Representing himself, Roberts told Judge Tony Snell had he known the pou had been taken from graves he wouldn't have bought them.

Roberts said he accepted his part in buying the pou and selling them on.

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He also wanted to apologise to the family for his involvement, he said.

In sentencing Roberts, Judge Snell said the incident had received some attention in the local media because the pou had been taken from the gravesites.

Judge Snell said Roberts had bought them from someone else and on sold them to a second hand shop, acting in almost a middle man capacity. He said Roberts indicated that if he had known the significance of the items he would not have been involved.

Judge Snell said given Roberts' limited involvement identified in the police summary of facts, he believed a sentence of community work was appropriate.

Judge Snell sentenced Roberts to 100 hours' community work, and said while Roberts had criminal history it included virtually nothing for dishonesty and offending of that type was "very much out of character" for him.

Outside court, Roberts said he didn't have anything further to add other than to reiterate his apology to the family of the people whose graves the pou were stolen from.

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Rotorua police Inspector Bruce Horne told the Rotorua Daily Post no one had yet been charged with the theft of the pou but police investigations were continuing.