A Northland man illegally milled native kauri and tawa despite having earlier been told by officials how he could do it compliantly.
Darrin Graeme McDonald was recently found guilty of illegally milling 2.107cu m of Kauri and 0.431cu m of tawa at his Mangapai property during January and February, 2021.
The fines he faces can stretch to $200,000 for the worst offenders.
In February 2018, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff advised McDonald of the need to register his sawmill and obtain written permission before milling native timber, but he failed to do either before milling the wood.
In January 2020, MPI inspectors acting on a tip-off went to McDonald's property where they located a Mahoe sawmill and various milled indigenous timbers including kauri, totara, rimu, and swamp kauri and puriri.
A Kauri log measuring 4.6m long and 95cm in diameter, was discovered along with 12 5m lengths of 150mm by 50mm timber, which McDonald said was tawa.
He claimed the tawa came from the Motu River and the kauri came from the beach at Waipū. He admitted milling both but said the kauri was Fijian kauri, not the native species.
The inspectors told him to stop milling the kauri log, register the sawmill, and become compliant with the Act.
On February 24 2021, MPI staff executed a search warrant at the property to identify any indigenous timber milled in breach of the Act. They seized the kauri log milled earlier and a pile of tawa sawn into lengths.
A sample of the kauri was sent for identification and found to be the New Zealand species.
McDonald did not attend a hearing in Whangārei District Court on March 22 this year at which MPI handed up written evidence in support of two charges under the Forests Act 1949 alleging he milled each of the indigenous timbers on an unregistered sawmill and without the requisite approval of MPI's chief executive.
In a recently-released decision, Judge Taryn Bayley found the charges proved.
McDonald is scheduled for sentence in Whangārei on June 27. Judge Bayley has signalled McDonald's capacity to pay will be taken into account with any fine that is imposed.