A diving trip on a beautiful Northland harbour saw 26-year-old Hamiora Armstrong gather 23 paua.

However, when fisheries officers on patrol on the Whangaruru Harbour paid him a visit to count and measure the kaimoana only one of the paua was the legal size of 125mm.

The Whananaki man had also taken more than twice the daily limit allowed per gatherer under fisheries regulations, which is 10.

While Armstrong failed to appear in Whangārei District Court for a hearing yesterday, despite being told by the court of the date, Judge Duncan Harvey heard from witnesses including two fisheries officers involved in the investigation.


Armstrong faced charges of possessing undersize paua, taking more than double the daily limit for paua and providing false details to the fisheries officer.

An experienced fisheries officer with 19 years in the job, Henry Ihaka said he had been with a honorary fisheries officer checking boaties in Whangaruru Harbour on October 21, 2017, when they spotted a boat with a woman in it near the shore and another person, Armstrong, in the water nearby.

Armstrong swam to the boat and when he realised the officers were checking his catch he became aggressive, rude and threatening. At one point he picked up a knife and eventually put it down after repeated requests.

At one point Armstrong claimed he was "tangata whenua" and he didn't know the laws.

Ihaka said he was issuing Armstrong with a fine and asked for his details including name, date of birth and address.

When Armstrong eventually gave his details, Ihaka was not convinced he was the person he was claiming to be and took his photo on a cellphone.

A fisheries colleague later identified the person as Armstrong and a police check also confirmed his correct identity.

Investigations continued and, in August 2018, Ihaka visited Armstrong at his Whananaki property and issued him with a letter requesting a formal interview.


Armstrong's failed to appear for the interview and the case then proceeded to court.

Judge Harvey found the charges of possessing undersize and excess paua were proven and Armstrong was convicted on giving false details.

A warrant to arrest Armstrong was promptly issued and when police track him down he will be sentenced by the court.