Four Maori sovereignty advocates have been sentence to jail
despite also being punished by their hapu.
The group, including National MP Tau Henare's nephew, had
sought leniency after being "sentenced" to two years of "hapu
Three of the four were caught with cannabis worth up to
$52,000 after police drove past a Tikipunga house and smelt
the cannabis from the road, despite their patrol vehicle's
windows being up.
Mr Henare had written a letter of support for Maihi Paraone,
27, who, with his father Mitai Brown, 52, and uncle Stephen
Brown, 43, had been found guilty by a jury of possession of
cannabis plant for supply.
Another relative, Jason Tua, 44, was found guilty of
possession of cannabis oil for supply.
Judge Russell Callander's decision to sentence the men to
jail followed a hui at Otiria Marae last Saturday where they
were ordered to perform two years of "hapu service".
Their offending came to light after police searched a Corks
Rd property in Whangarei on April 1, last year. Judge
Callander said two police officers were surprised at the
smell of cannabis coming from the house.
Police said the 5.2kg of drugs recovered had a street value
of between $46,000 and $52,000.
Whanau members, including Mr Henare, came out in numbers to
show their support for a non-custodial sentence but Judge
Callander said cannabis was a pernicious drug and the
offenders needed to be held accountable.
He was particularly critical of the quartet's decision to
reject legal representation during their trial, based on
Judge Callander said it was a foolish move because it meant
they entered their trial without the knowledge of law
procedure and the evidential requirements.
He said Parliament and the higher courts had repeatedly made
it clear that everyone was subjected to the same laws of New
However, he recognised the hui, attended by 35 people, was a
mitigating factor and said it showed the men's remorse.
Mitai Brown acknowledged he was the prime offender and sought
forgiveness from his whanau, Judge Callander said.
In his letter of support for Paraone, Mr Henare said his
nephew was a hard-working man who had been misdirected by his
But Judge Callander said Paraone had been uncooperative with
the Probation Service and refused to recognise the law of the
He sentenced him to two years and nine months in jail.
Mitai Brown was jailed for three years and six months and
indicated he would appeal the sentence.
His brother Stephen Brown was sentenced to two years and six
months while Tua got 18 months with leave to apply for home
- Imran Ali of The Northern Advocate