Tears flowed as a man responsible for transporting large quantities of methamphetamine from Auckland to be sold in Rotorua was handed a lengthy jail sentence.
Whānau and supporters of Paul Tamai, 58, from Ngongotahā packed the public gallery at Rotorua District Court yesterday to hear Tamai's fate.
The sentencing hearing before Judge Phillip Cooper started and ended with a karakia and there was rousing haka, which a tearful Tamai took part in after apologising to the judge and the court for his offending.
Tamai had earlier pleaded guilty to 17 methamphetamine charges.
The charges included six of possession of a Class-A drug for Supply and 11 of supplying or offering to supply a Class-A drug plus unlawful possession of ammunition.
Tamai's son, Dick Tamai, 41, was sentenced last month to six years and four months in prison.
The pair were prospects for the Outlaw motorcycle gang and in frequent communication with a patched Head Hunter member in Auckland whose phones were tapped by the National Organised Crime Group.
The plan was for Paul and Dick Tamai, who live in Ngongotahā, to become full members themselves and help the gang establish in Rotorua.
Paul Tamai travelled to Auckland to pick up large quantities of methamphetamine, while his son would sell it in Rotorua on his behalf.
However, their ambitions were cut short in December 2018 when police seized about $420,000 worth of methamphetamine and $380,000 in cash and assets.
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The pair were arrested in the raids and both pleaded guilty in February 2020.
Following their convictions, NZME revealed the most damning evidence against the Tamais was gathered by undercover police officers.
Over the course of their deployment, the undercover agents bought 260 grams of meth from the Tamais, with an estimated street value of $260,000.
Shortly after they left, searches were conducted by police at the homes of Dick and Paul Tamai. In Dick Tamai's bedroom was an 8mm semi-automatic Bruni pistol and $13,100.
At Paul Tamai's home were 164 rounds of .22 ammunition and $9380 cash.
Billy MacFarlane from Rotorua's Tikanga Aroro Charitable Trust, who has been helping Tamai reconnect with his iwi and tikanga Māori, spoke in support of the offender.
MacFarlane urged Judge Cooper to impose a sentence that not only significantly acknowledged all of Tamai's "hard work" in regards to his rehabilitative efforts, but also gave him hope when he eventually appeared before the Parole Board.
He said the change in Tamai had been "amazing" and he was highly motivated to continue all the good work he had done so he did not "fall into this crisis again".
Crown prosecutor Duncan McWilliam said Tamai deserved some credit for his expression of remorse, guilty pleas and any mitigating factors.
McWilliam said the court should not lose sight of the fact that the principal reason for this offending was greed and the huge damage this "pernicious and awful drug" does in communities.
Tamai's lawyer Bill Lawson said a psychiatric report and character references before the court attested to the fact that his client had a difficult start to life, and also suffered a head injury and "understandably" had struggled with mental health issues over the years.
All the supporting material before the court, including from MacFarlane, showed Tamai was genuinely trying to make amends for the damage he had caused, he said.
Lawson said it was acknowledged by Tamai there were two factors as the heart of his offending, firstly greed but also possibly his "over paternalistic' approach to caring for his whānau and his son.
Tamai was genuinely remorseful and very motivated to ensure his time in prison was focused on his rehabilitation and reintegration back into the community, he said.
Judge Cooper told Tamai he was "very impressed" by his rehabilitation efforts and said he was satisfied that he was genuinely remorseful and motivated to reform his ways.
But the judge said he was bound by the laws set by Parliament and Court of Appeal rulings, and the fact this type of offending - principally motivated by greed - had a huge "destructive" impact on communities, particular for Māori in Rotorua, and required a deterrent sentence.