A stoush over a drone came to a head in a quiet reserve leaving one man in the dock and another's flying craft in tatters.
Aaron Wagstaff was flying his drone in Waikanae on Monday. He paid $1700 for the 30cm-square "Phantom 3" remote-controlled craft to take scenic shots.
After it landed, Simon Done walked over and stomped on it with his right foot, smashing it. He says he was standing up for people's privacy but Mr Wagstaff wasn't convinced.
"I'm not sure why he did it," Mr Wagstaff said yesterday.
"I was just flying it over the river and there was a family watching and asking me questions and then I landed it and he said something about, 'don't you know you're not allowed to fly within 150m of someone'.
"I was picking it up and he came along and stomped on it. I still can't believe it happened to be honest. It was just completely out of the blue."
Rules governing drone use say the operator needs to see the craft with their own eyes, it has to give way to all manned aircraft, and they cannot fly more than 120m off the ground or within 4km of an aerodrome. From next month operators will have to get consent to fly over private property.
Mr Wagstaff said the drone was in the air for about 20 minutes, but he was only taking footage for the first four minutes over the estuary.
The family nearby was interested and had asked about the craft, which he'd used five or six times. He said the closest it came to other people was when it landed.
Done was found guilty of intentional damage in the Porirua District Court this week.
He was sentenced to 80 hours' community work and ordered to pay Mr Wagstaff for the drone.
Done said he was concerned about people taking footage from drones and said he was standing up for personal privacy.
"That's part of the reason I did it. I basically stood up for everyone else who wanted to do something like that but it's not in their nature to go and do it," he said.
"If you asked lots of people I think they'd be on my side."
Done said New Zealand's drone laws were behind other countries' and we should adopt a licensing system. He thought drones had their uses, such as in search and rescue operations, but they should not be used to buzz over houses or people.
"And who's to say what could happen if it crashed or hit somebody in the face? Who's going to be liable?" Done asked.
"I believe people have a right to their privacy without somebody going round filming them."
Done said he wasn't sorry for stomping on the drone but his court-imposed punishment was "fair enough".
He has to pay Mr Wagstaff $20 a week.