A Northland man has been sentenced to five months' home detention for selling an estimated $10,000 worth of illegal paua via Facebook.

Dwayne Edward Rawiri, of Omapere, was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Monday on 31 charges under the Fisheries Act brought by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Most of the charges related to selling and offering to sell paua via Facebook posts between September and December 2015. He also offered to sell paua and crayfish by text message.

Read more: MPI Warning: Social media seafood sales breach Fisheries Act
Wellington paua poacher's home detention near Whangarei Harbour


Three charges were laid after he was busted in March 2016 coming back from a dive with more than three times the daily paua limit, some of which were undersized, and more than two times the daily limit of kina. Many of the paua were taken from Kawerua, on the west coast south of Hokianga Harbour.

A report from west coast iwi Te Roroa, read in part to the court, said there had been a noticeable decline in kina, paua and crayfish in recent years due to people taking more than their daily allowance.

Some marae were no longer able to offer crayfish and kina at special events, affecting their mana, and it had become harder for local families to feed themselves.

Kawerua was also a significant wahi tapu so taking of kai moana for personal gain was a takahi (trampling) on the mana of Te Roroa.

Addressing the court Rawiri said he was deeply sorry for his actions. He had fronted up to his marae, his kaumatua and his grandmother in Rawene Hospital.

"A lot of them [kaumatua] weren't impressed, and I didn't get a good reaction from my nan."

Rawiri said he had lost his three youngest children through years of marijuana use. He had been clean for more than two years but could only see the children four times a year; he started selling paua to make money so he could travel to see them.

Judge Keith de Ridder sad it was impossible to know exactly how much paua Rawiri had sold but the market value was estimated to be more than $10,000. He was caught when he sold $3121 worth to fisheries officers.

Predatory behaviour like Rawiri's had a significant effect on the resource and Parliament took it seriously enough to set a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

Because he pleaded guilty early, had no previous convictions for fisheries offences, and was willing to face the community and apologise for breaching the tikanga he had been brought up to respect, the judge instead imposed a term of five months' home detention.

He also sentenced Rawiri to 200 hours' community work for the three charges from March 2016.