A Tauranga man who attempted to build his family a park by dumping nearly 1500cu m of concrete and rebar into Tauranga Harbour has been remanded in custody.
Tio Faulkner, who represented himself, appeared before Judge Prudence Steven in the Tauranga District Court today to face sentencing on six charges relating to the unlawful work undertaken at the Matipihi Road property.
The charges, laid by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, included one count of unlawfully reclaiming the foreshore, one count of unlawfully disturbing the foreshore, and two charges of discharging faecal bacteria into the harbour.
Faulkner was also facing sentencing on two additional charges of contravening an abatement notice and failing to provide information as directed by an enforcement officer.
Judge Steven could not proceed with sentencing, however, as Faulkner had failed to meet with a probation officer to determine his financial means to service a fine or reparation order.
Faulkner said he had not yet met with a probation officer as he intended to appeal his conviction in the High Court.
Judge Steven said she did not know if an appeal had been filed, but in any case, she must first hand down a sentence before any appeal could be lodged with another court - a fact Faulkner challenged.
Prosecution lawyer Adam Hopkinson told the court the council was seeking a financial penalty and reparations in the order of hundreds and thousands of dollars for the offending.
Judge Steven indicated this would only be considered if Faulkner had the means to repay the sum.
If not, Faulkner would likely be looking at a sentence of prison time for the offending, Judge Steven said.
According to Judge Steven's judgment from November, the unlawful earthworks were discovered by a regional council officer carrying out aerial surveys around Tauranga Harbour in July 2019.
After alerting the council compliance team, two enforcement officers inspected the property and discovered a flat platform had been established using a mix of concrete, plastic wrap, and rebar.
At the time of the inspection, the platform extended about 15m into the harbour, and was about 30m wide and 2m-3m deep.
Also of concern to the officers was a piggery located next to the fill site, with animal faeces running freely into the harbour.
Faulkner told the officers he held a resource consent, issued by the "Tangata Whenua Wealth and Resource Management Authority" - a group not recognised in any resource management legislation.
An abatement notice was issued on September 4, 2019, ordering Faulkner to cease reclamation of the foreshore.
On October 7, a search warrant was executed at the property, where it was discovered further material had been deposited into the harbour and the reclamation had been extended.
Another warrant was executed on November 4 and an additional abatement notice was issued instructing Faulkner to cease the discharge of pig effluent into the water.
During a visit on January 28, Faulkner issued council officers with a handwritten trespass notice and locked the gate providing access to his property.
Almost a year after the first warrant, on August 13 enforcement officers again executed a search warrant on the property and found the piggery still in operation, with run-off continuing to flow into the harbour.
The regional council later filed charges.
In a previous court appearance, Faulkner presented a variety of defences for the earthworks, including suggesting the works had been carried out for the purpose of erosion protection, according to the judgment.
A document provided to council officers by Faulkner during a 2019 search listed the reason for the earthworks as "mitigation for effects of global warming".
However, two witnesses who gave evidence to the court said Faulkner had told them he was wanting to build an area "similar to Memorial Park" near Tauranga's CBD, the judgment said.
Judge Steven found Faulkner guilty of six charges. A second charge of failing to provide requested information was dismissed.