Sonny Tau remains on leave from his position as chairman of the Ngapuhi Runanga but still holds his position as a representative on Tuhoronuku, a runanga spokesman says.

The Ngapuhi Runanga announced last year Mr Tau would be taking a three-month leave of absence from his positions at the Runanga from October.

He was stood down after he was charged with hunting and possessing native wood pigeons.

When that leave of absence expired in January the Northern Advocate asked the runanga about his future with the organisation, however it remained tight-lipped at the time and further enquiries were not responded to.


After sending more questions last week, the runanga responded saying Sonny (Raniera) Tau was on extended board-approved leave from his position as chairman of the Ngapuhi Runanga. While he is on leave Carol Dodd is the acting chairwoman.

"While on leave from board chair duties and responsibilities, the board supports Raniera to continue to lead and influence issues of significance to Ngapuhi, including the restructuring of Te Ohu Kaimoana and the proposed Kermadec Marine Sanctuary. Raniera remains the runanga representative on the Tuhoronuku IMA Board," said spokesman Tio Taiaki.

Mr Taiaki said Mr Tau had achieved a lot during his 13 years as chairman of the runanga including bringing it out of a financial deficit. He said there was no end date for Mr Tau's leave and would not comment on whether the leave was paid.

The Northern Advocate asked if Ngapuhi beneficiaries were updated regarding Mr Tau's position, Mr Taiaki said Ngapuhi were "regularly informed through media statements, notices and board members who report back to their respective takiwa [district]."

Mr Tau was found with several kukupa at Invercargill Airport on June 16 last year. He admitted possessing five kukupa and initially denied hunting the birds. However, in November last year, 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. In May, Mr Tau is due to be sentenced in Invercargill District Court for the hunting and possession of kukupa.