Ngapuhi elder Sonny Tau has pleaded guilty to a charge of hunting a protected bird.

It comes after he had earlier admitted possession of five Kereru.

He was today convicted in the Auckland District Court on both charges.

A new charge, of conspiring to perverting the course of justice, was also brought by the police.


Tau, 61, who appeared in court today supported by family, did not enter a plea in relation to that charge.

Tau did not speak during his short appearance. Instead his lawyer entered a plea on his behalf.

"The possession charge already has a plea of guilty entered," he told the judge.

"And I can confirm a guilty plea to the hunting charge also."

All the charges were moved from the Invercargill District Court to Auckland last week.

The conspiring to pervert the course of justice charge was laid in Invercargill last week, but today was Tau's first appearance in relation to the count.

Under the Crimes Act, anyone found guilty of conspiring to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice may be imprisoned for up to seven years.

Tau was found with a number of Kereru at Invercargill Airport in June.


The Department of Conservation charged him with killing or hunting a protected species and another of unlawfully being in possession of protected wildlife.

Since the incident, Tau, has stood aside from his position of chairman of Tuhoronuku, the body recognised as having mandate to negotiate the Ngapuhi Treaty Settlement.

The maximum penalty for taking a protected species is a fine of up to $100,000 or two years in prison.

Tau will be back in court in January.