A prominent Kiwi sportsman linked to an international drug conspiracy is attempting to take his case for permanent name suppression to the country's highest court.

He lost suppression last week and the order was due to lapse at 3pm on Thursday.

However, his lawyer today confirmed a new bid for secrecy has been mounted.

The sportsman has fought to keep his name hidden after being connected to the High Court trial of Tevita Fangupo, Tevita Kulu and Toni Finau earlier this year.


Former solicitor-general Michael Heron, QC, is representing the Kiwi star and argues if his client is named it would cause almost irreparable damage to the sportsman's career.

However, in a decision after the May trial, Justice Mathew Downs declined the sports star's bid for permanent name suppression.

The decision was then challenged in the Court of Appeal last month, with both the Crown and media opposing a permanent gag order.

Last week the Court of Appeal revealed it had declined suppression.

The three judges said in their decision there is "unquestionably, a high public interest" in how methamphetamine comes into New Zealand, including how it is financed, transported and how it is distributed once it arrives.

"The public has an interest in knowing who is behind this offending, including those who assist or enable it to occur, even if not directly involved," they said.

Former solicitor-general Michael Heron, QC, is the sports star's lawyer. Photo / Michael Craig
Former solicitor-general Michael Heron, QC, is the sports star's lawyer. Photo / Michael Craig

Despite the ruling, the sportsman wants to continue his fight for suppression and Heron said he intends to now take the case to the Supreme Court.

He told the Herald he has asked the Court of Appeal to extend the interim suppression order past Thursday's deadline as he prepares the paperwork for a Supreme Court challenge.


The sportsman's identity will remain hidden from the public until New Zealand's highest court first rules on an application for leave to appeal and, if granted, holds another hearing.

Despite not being charged, the Crown named the sports star during the drug-trafficking trial and alleged he was linked to the offending after several social media messages were uncovered.

The Crown accused him financing the drug syndicate by taking cash from New Zealand to the US to buy meth and import it back here.

One group of messages in October 2017 saw contact a source about meth pricing and said he had "all ur money ... the dude I was with that's on my Snapchat is going to change it to US currency".

"They won't question him bout all the money ... [people] know he rich anyways so he'll be good to change it with no hassels," Kulu continued.

"The dude" is alleged to be the Kiwi sports star.


A witness also said he saw the sportsman purchase "white pills" in 2017, which was argued at trial to be steroids and bodybuilding supplements.

A challenge to New Zealand's Supreme Court is expected by the sportsman. Photo / File
A challenge to New Zealand's Supreme Court is expected by the sportsman. Photo / File

Justice Downs said the sports star's "alleged financing of the defendants' operation was not an unimportant feature of the prosecution case".

"[His] alleged purchase of methamphetamine from Mr Finau was an important aspect of the representative supply charge confronting Mr Finau," the judge said.

"[Sioeli] Fakafanua - Mr Finau's witness - said he clearly remembered what happened because he was 'so starstruck'."

Police have said they were set to lay criminal charges against the sports star over his alleged involvement with the syndicate, which was importing its drugs from California.

But sources have told the Herald that police did not consider they had enough evidence to secure a conviction.


A search warrant was obtained for him but never executed.

The members of the drug syndicate - Fangupo, Kulu, Finau and Halane Ikiua - are all due to be sentenced in October.

A fifth man, Shane Singh, has already been jailed for 10 years and four months for importing a Class A drug.