Iwi leader Raniera (Sonny) Tau has been charged by the Department of Conservation after being caught at Invercargill Airport carrying dead kererū.
Two charges have been laid regarding killing and possession of the birds, which are protected under law.
Raniera Tau will appear before the Invercargill District Court on July 24.
The incident occurred two weeks ago. It's understood Raniera Tau was hunting the birds in Invercargill and was later caught at the airport as he prepared for his departure home.
Raniera Tau hasn't made comment publicly on the issue. However, Te Kāea spoke to a close relation of his Naida Glavish a short while ago.
She says, “I want everybody to know, more than 90 kaumātua from Ngāpuhi gathered together today and they're all in support of Sonny. Te Rūnanga o Ngāpuhi also met and was in full support of Sonny. In regards to the kererū, just like our toheroa, there is nothing wrong with receiving it if it's given as a gift.”
Maximum penalties include a fine of $100,000 and/or imprisonment of two years.
We know that people have been imprisoned in the past for this type of charge so it's not a new case.
But given it is Raniera Tau, who is an iwi leader, we can expect Māori lore versus Pākehā law to perhaps be tested, and where Māori practices fit in the English law.