Ngāpuhi chairman under investigation for poaching wood pigeons

By Dean Nathan

It is alleged Ngāpuhi chairman Sonny Tau is under investigation for poaching the protected native wood pigeon.

Tau wasn't talking to media today, however Police are saying they are unaware of the issue and the Department of Conservation won't comment on reports.

If you're caught killing one of the wood pigeons at a Northland recovery centre, you can face a fine of up to $100,000.

Robert Webb from the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre says, “Sometimes we spend months saving them and then the day come to release them and to see them fly back into the wild free again like they should be, you feel like you've achieved something in life.  Then you hear something like that and you think wow, it’s just so sad from people that should know a lot better.”

Tau has just released a personal statement confirming he was questioned by DoC about a kereru in his possession and is cooperating with any investigation even though he has not been charged.

He also says he made a mistake which he deeply regrets.

Chair of Northland Conservation Board, Mita Harris says, “The number in Tai Tokerau, I don’t know about the rest of the country, but the numbers are low and they don’t flock like they used to flock before in big numbers.  It’s a wake-up call for Ngāpuhi, it’s a wakeup call for Māori right across the motu, to look at the stocks in our ngahere, especially our kūkupa.”

Police have told Te Kāea they are unaware of any incident relating to wood pigeons and the Department of Conservation decline to comment while an investigation is underway and nor would they provide any details.

Robert Webb says, “We're losing them flat out.  You know, for goodness sake, you could go and buy a chicken from the supermarket and probably not even know the flaming difference. But it is sad when you see that happening. There’s been a lot of work been done to try and help.  There’s new brochures out lately with the kūkupa on it.”