A man caught running drugs between the North and South Islands has been jailed for more than two years.

Percy Miha Hawkins (53) appeared in the Dunedin District Court this week following guilty pleas to charges of possessing methamphetamine for supply and offering to supply the class A drug.

They were his first drugs conviction, defence counsel Len Andersen QC said.

But Judge Michael Crosbie detailed a long criminal history featuring alcohol, driving offences and violence.

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"You've seen a lot of life and you've seen a lot of life on the inside," he said.

"You've done a lot of bad things."

The latest on the list came soon after Hawkins was released from prison and was struggling financially, the court heard.

The Dunedin Organised Crime Squad began tracking the man, who was making regular trips to the North Island, particularly Flaxmere.

On June 9 last year, Hawkins was stopped on the return leg and found with 13g of meth broken into smaller amounts, as well as digital scales and deal bags.

He told police he was "not a big-time drug dealer" but cellphone data gave an insight into his enterprise.

Hawkins was selling to his former partner and associates, and officers intercepted a raft of messages offering amounts of methamphetamine ranging from 0.1g to multiple grams.

"This was very much the defendant's own operation," Crown prosecutor Marie Grills said.

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At one point, the court heard, Hawkins discussed with a friend investing $17,000 in the drug-dealing scheme.

In total, the offending involved 53g of meth, the court heard.

Judge Crosbie accepted Hawkins made little profit out of it and that it was driven, to some degree, by the man's addiction.

However, there was no firm evidence of that before the court, he said.

Mr Andersen said the contents of a cultural report gave important context to his client's offending.

It outlined family violence from an early age and a descent into drug and alcohol use from the age of 8.

Mr Andersen argued, considering Hawkins had spent a year behind bars, a term of intensive supervision could be imposed.

The defendant would live on a farm in North Otago with his new partner and eventually planned to reconnect with whanau in Hawke's Bay, he said.

But the judge decided imprisonment was the only option.

"Methamphetamine is a scourge," he said. "People like me sit here week after week and wonder what as a society we're going to do about it. It's responsible for a huge amount of grief."

Hawkins was sentenced to two years four months' imprisonment.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz