Six men and two youths have appeared in the Rotorua District Court and Rotorua Youth Court today and entered pleas to charges of improperly interfering with a dead body.

Four men and two youths appeared before Judge Jocelyn Munroe in the Rotorua Youth Court, while two men, who were in custody, appeared in the Rotorua District Court.

The charge relates to the remains of Jason Lines, who died when his fishing dinghy capsized crossing the Bowentown Bar, south of Waihi Beach, on November 20. Two people survived the capsize and Lines' body washed ashore seven days later.

Eight people were charged with improperly interfering with Lines' remains following his tangi at a Rotorua urupa at the start of this month.


Maurice Ututaonga, 21, Rhys James Phillips, forest worker, 25, and Shannon Shiloh Apirana, 28, all from Rotorua, entered not guilty pleas to the charges and were remanded to reappear on February 28 for a case review hearing.

Apirana pleaded guilty to an additional charge of aggravated failing to stop.

The youths, aged 15 and 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not deny the charge and were remanded to reappear on February 12.

Tiger Ross, 17, will reappear on February 7.

Sebastien Wineera, 22, and Ryan Rawiri Lingman, fencer, 25, both of whom were in custody, appeared before Judge Munroe in the Rotorua District Court and entered not guilty pleas.

Wineera was granted bail but Lingman's bail was declined. Lingman has pleaded not guilty to an additional charge of assault with intent to injure relating to a separate incident on November 15.

Wineera and Lingman will also reappear for a case review hearing on February 28.

Defence lawyer Andy Schulz, who represented Phillips, said it was his intention to have discussions with police over the charge as it was his view the charge was not suitable to what occurred.