Three Hawke's Bay divers with 361 undersized paua were discovered by a Ministry for Primary Industries officer after their car got stuck on a beach.

Jason Takitaki Te Kahu, 41, appeared in the Hastings District Court on Tuesday charged with obstructing a fisheries officer.

In October 2017 Te Kahu, along with Nathan Christopher Gerrard, 33, and Richard Trevor Rapana 39, were at Blackhead Beach in Central Hawke's Bay diving for paua.

As the group were leaving, their Toyota Corolla hatchback got stuck and as an officer approached, he saw Gerrard run from the car carrying a large pack and hiding it in the grass.


After conducting a fisheries inspection the officer discovered two sacks of paua in the boot along with dive gear in the boot.

He also located the large blue pack concealed in the long grass near the vehicle containing 188 paua.

The other two sacks contained 178 paua in total. The daily catch for paua is 10 per gatherer per day.

Fishery officers later interviewed Rapana who said he had driven the group to the beach along with one other visiting from Australia. Rapana said he'd gathered the paua into one of the sacks so his friend could take it back overseas with him.

Rapana was convicted and sentenced on July 17, 2018 at Hastings District Court and was sentenced to 250 hours community work.

Te Kahu was located in November 2017 and ordered to attend an interview by an MPI officer. He didn't show up.

In January 2018 he contacted the MPI officer to say he was out of town and couldn't attend the second interview. The officer arranged another interview on January 18. He again failed to attend.

Gerrard was located on January 16 and also told to attend an interview on January 17, but followed in the footsteps of Te Kahu and didn't show up.


He was sentenced on September 6, 2018 at Napier District Court and was sentenced to 350 hours community work and five months community detention.

In total 366 paua were seized, but 361 of them were undersize. Three were immeasurable and only two were legal. Ninety-one of the paua were between 45mm and 100mm. The minimum size is 125mm.

After the examination the paua were returned to the sea but it was unlikely they survived due to the period of time they were out of the water.

Te Kahu will be sentenced on July 18 in Hastings.