A police blunder has resulted in four alleged Chinese people smugglers being awarded a $2000 payout.

Jia Ma, 35, Le Tan, 28, Hao Tan, 34, and Lin Sang, 29, are accused of helping unauthorised immigrants enter Australia illegally from New Zealand.

While their lawyers dispute allegations of a major people smuggling operation, police have put the offending in the "Dotcom category".

But officers failed to get consent from the Attorney-General when they laid charges in July, and today at Christchurch District Court were granted an extension to file the proper legal papers.


Police were left red-faced today when Judge Emma Smith agreed that each accused should be paid $565 in costs.

Defence counsel Gerald Lascelles told the court: "Police have put this into the 'Mr Dotcom' category and have really over-stepped the mark."

Bail conditions for the men - all from Christchurch - were also eased so they now report to a police station just once a week, not twice.

They were remanded without plea to November 15 to allow police more time to get their casework in order.